GOD’S CORPORATE EXPRESSION
God has only one image, and since His image is one, He can only have one expression. There are many thousands of Christians on this earth. How then can so many be just one expression of God? The answer is in God’s building! We must have the building. I do not have words to express what is on my heart concerning this matter. There is a vision open to me continuously day and night. First, negatively, it is impossible for any single individual to express God in a full way; then, positively, the proper and adequate expression of God must be a coordinated, corporate expression. Remember, God’s desire and purpose is that He be expressed and represented through man on this earth. But this is possible only when we are being mutually coordinated and built up together. Then God will be fully expressed. Oh, we must be built up with other Christians as a corporate expression, representing God! God’s first created man failed to be His one expression, but the principle still holds: the other man created by God—the new man—is to be that all-inclusive, corporate man, God’s real expression on this earth.
Let us be more practical. Christians talk much about being like Jesus, glorifying God, and expressing Christ. But it is impossible for any individual to glorify God or express Christ in a full way if he is not built up with other Christians. Consider ourselves. All of our problems are due to one thing: we are too independent and individualistic; we are disconnected and isolated from others. So we are beset with failures and weaknesses. Do you have a certain besetting sin which you cannot overcome? You will never surmount it or overcome it by yourself. You must forget your own efforts and pay full attention to being built up with others. If we are willing to be vitally related and built up with others, we will find that our weaknesses and shortcomings will disappear. We must learn to pay attention to one thing: being built up with other Christians. In the early years of my Christian life I did not see this building principle. I was struggling and striving, seeking and fighting. One day the Lord opened my eyes. I saw that there was no need for me to struggle, fight and toil any longer. I need only abide in the Body. As long as each member of my physical body abides in the body, everything is all right.
Suppose your hand is isolated and separated from your body; yet it continues with great effort to live and function, to be healthy and useful! Suppose someone should ask the severed hand, “What are you striving for…?” and it replies, “Oh, I must strive to be healthy, to overcome all the germs, etc., etc.” Such a supposition is absurd in the extreme. Yet this is the case of most Christians today, probably including yourself. Yes, we are Christians, but we are not actually related to one another. We are members of Christ’s Body, but we are not fitly framed together. We are materials, but we are not built up together as God’s building. Oh, we must forget our personal struggles and just abide in the Body! A misplaced, detached hand is not only useless—it is ugly and terrifying! Let us forget our striving and just pay attention to being vitally related to Christ’s Body. Then the germs will be killed, and we will be living and powerful, healthy and functioning. We will not merely be useful, but fully useful.
Soon after I became a Christian, I read numerous articles concerning the victorious life and how to overcome sin. I tried to apply what I learned; yet the more I tried, the more I failed! I became very disappointed. But one day the Lord opened my eyes to see that Christ is within me as my life, that I am a member of His Body, and that there is no need for me to do anything. Then I deeply appreciated that Christ was my life, and that I was in the Body. From this realization I experienced victory continually. There was no need to strive. The whole Body enriched me and strengthened me. I realized I was a member of the new man.
At the end of Scripture, as its conclusion, there is one city. And this city is the building, the unique, universal expression of God. God always has only one expression. As in Genesis 1, there is only one man, so at the end of Scripture there is only one city, built of gold, pearls and precious stones. An independent Christian can never be a real, full expression of God. If we cut off our ear, it is an expression only of death. If I come upon a heap of ears, I will be terrified. Yet there are so many Christians today just like this, frightening people away. They are “nice” Christians, but practically speaking they are separated and isolated from the Body.
As Christians, can we point out other definite members of the Body of Christ with whom we are related in a practical way? This is not a matter of doctrine or ethereal “spirituality”; it is a matter of practical reality. Check yourself. If you are an isolated member of the Body, you are burdened with many problems. The only way to be a victorious Christian is to be a related Christian. When we come to the Body, we find that all the besetting sins are under our feet! The issue is not whether we are a living, healthy, or functioning, individual Christian; but are we vitally and practically related to the Body of Christ? It is a pity, but it is a fact that very little is heard today regarding the building of God and the real relatedness of the Body of Christ on this earth. I do hope that we all may see that it is God’s intention to have a corporate man as a building, a unique expression, with so many members fitly framed together, members related and built up as one Body. Then, wherever we are, we will enjoy all the riches of the Body.
(The Vision of God's Building, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)