GOD’S DESIRE FOR THE CHURCH, THE BODY OF CHRIST
If we bring all these things to the Lord and spend some time to consider them, we will be clear about the position of the church in God’s economy. We will see that what God is looking for and what He is working for is the church, the Body of Christ. But throughout all the generations the enemy has been doing his best to spoil, frustrate, damage, and even destroy this church. Look at the situation of Christianity today. There are thousands and even millions of Christians, but it is not easy to point out a group of believers practicing the church life in a proper way.
Suppose you come to Los Angeles or go to New York. We all know that in these big cities there are millions of Christians. But where can you find the proper church? Throughout all the generations this has been a real problem, and it is still a problem today. It is a problem because the church is what God is looking for and working for, and it is also what the enemy hates, spoils, damages, and frustrates. The enemy tries to cover and even to bury the matter of the church. But we believe that in these last days the Lord is going to recover the church life.
The church is the bride to the Bridegroom, and without the bride, there is no way and no purpose for the Bridegroom to come back. Christ will be able to come back by the bride’s being prepared. As long as the bride is not ready, the Bridegroom cannot come back for her. In the book of Revelation, we are told that when the bride is ready, prepared, the Bridegroom will come back (19:7). This is why we have the assurance that in these last days the Lord is going to recover the church life to prepare His bride.
CHRIST AS LIFE FOR THE CHURCH
What is the life for us to practice the church, and what is the proper way for us to practice the church life? These are the problems. The burden today is to meet the urgent need by helping us to see the life and the way for the church practice. No doubt, we all would say that the life for us to practice the church is Christ Himself. Many of us have the realization that we need Christ as our life, but very few realize that Christ as our life is for us to practice the church life.
There have been many teachings about life—the victorious life, the sanctified life, the exchanged life, the crucified life, the spiritual life, the divine life, the eternal life, and the life of Christ, the life of God. But it is hard to find a book telling us that this overcoming life, this spiritual life, the life of Christ, is for the church. This life is not just for victory or for sanctification. This life is not just for being spiritual, divine, and holy. This life is for a definite purpose, that is, for the building up of the church as the Body of Christ. Simply speaking, this life is for the church.
For what purpose do you want to be victorious or sanctified? For what purpose do you want to be divine, spiritual, or holy? Look at a building. Every piece of material has been dealt with and cut into a certain size and shape for the purpose of fitting the building. I have seen a number of truly spiritual people, and I did get some spiritual help from them. But one day the Lord asked me, "There are many spiritual persons as beautiful stones, beautiful materials, but where is the building?" You may be spiritually beautiful, but are you just a beautiful stone or have you been built together with others in the house? This is a problem.
In a certain place, I met a very spiritual person. But one day the Lord opened my eyes and asked me, "Do I need some individually spiritual persons, some beautiful individual pieces of stone, or do I need a house?" On that day, my eyes were opened and I bowed before the Lord, saying, "Lord, I want to be a stone that is built up with others. I realize You need a house. You do not need a lot of beautiful stones which are good for exhibition." What the Lord needs today is not many beautiful stones but a built-up house. While Jacob was wandering in the wilderness, in his dream he saw Bethel (Gen. 28:19). At that time Jacob was a homeless person, and God was a homeless God. What the Lord needs in this universe is a home, a house, a building, a church, a Body.
Suppose a person’s two eyes are removed from his body. They are two individually beautiful eyes, but what is their use outside the body? In a sense, these two eyes are quite beautiful, yet in another sense, they are very peculiar. Honestly speaking, I have met a lot of Christians who are beautiful but who are also peculiar. They are spiritual yet individualistic. Maybe you have been a Christian for many years, but as a piece of material for God’s building, with whom have you been built up and with whom are you really related? I am afraid you are either individually spiritual or spiritually individualistic.
I want to say again that the life of Christ is not just for victory, for sanctification, for being spiritual, or for being heavenly, but for His Body. The Lord can be fully realized as life to us only when we realize that we are members of the Body. When we realize that we are members of the Body and live as such members, we will know the fullness of Christ’s being life to us.
(The Life and Way for the Practice of the Church Life, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)