Living in the Spirit, by Witness Lee


The Scriptures consistently show us that the main thought in the Bible is that God wants man to express Him. Perhaps you may say that the Bible shows us that God wants us to worship Him, to serve Him, and to work for Him. The Bible certainly mentions these things, but you cannot find them in the first two chapters of Genesis. There is no thought of worshipping God, serving God, or working for God in these chapters. The only thought seen in them is that man was created in the image of God for His expression. Suppose I am a photograph of you, and as your photograph I begin to worship you, serve you, and work for you. You would think, “What a foolish picture! Everything it is doing is nonsense. I do not want my picture to worship me, serve me, or work for me. I just want my picture to express me in a clear way.”

We must see that the consistent purpose, the central purpose, of God is not for us to worship Him, serve Him, or work for Him but for us to express Him. What God requires of the church in Taipei is not our zeal, devout worship, or successful service. Rather, God desires that people would see God when they come to Taipei. Every church needs to realize this. This is not a matter of our zeal, diligence, or devout worship but of our expressing God. When people come to our meetings, they should be able to declare that God is truly among us.

Degraded Christianity has deviated from the lofty goal and eternal purpose of God to being concerned merely with worshipping God, serving God, and working for God. Perhaps some would argue, saying, “Did Paul not tell us to worship God? Did he not tell us to serve God?” He certainly did, but we must realize that the worshipping, serving, and working for God spoken of by Paul are for the expression of Christ. We may be using the same terms as Paul, but our understanding of those terms may be different. The worshipping, serving, and working for God spoken of by Paul may not be what we think they are. If we would read through Paul’s Epistles, we would see that what Paul meant by worshipping God, serving God, and working for God was to live out Christ and to live Christ in the presence of men.

The church is the new man, which is a photograph of God. God intends to have a photograph, a reprint, of Himself in this universe. When God Himself is reprinted, that reprint is the church. There are many different aspects of the church, and one of them is the church as the reprint of God. The church is a corporate picture of God. It is like a picture of God taken by God Himself. God has no intention for this picture to worship Him, serve Him, and work for Him. His only intention is that this picture would manifest Him in a clear and definite way so that when people see the church they would see Him. If people were to ask you, “Where is God?” you could say, “Come and see—God is in the church.” If they were to ask, “What does God look like?” you could say, “When you see the church, you see God.” In the early days those in the church in Jerusalem may have said, “O Jews! Do you want to know God? Then come and see the church. What your fathers passed on to you and what you learned from them was only the law in doctrine. Today, however, what is being expressed in the church in Jerusalem is the Lord Himself. The church in Jerusalem is a reprint of God.” Can we say the same today? If we cannot say this, we are off.

The Scriptures show us that when God rebuked and judged His people, He often rebuked them not so much for their sins and evil doings but for being zealous in serving Him without expressing Him. Consider the seven epistles in Revelation. In the first epistle written to the messenger of the church in Ephesus, the Lord said, “I know your works and your labor and your endurance;…and you…have borne all things because of My name and have not grown weary.…But I have one thing against you, that you have left your first love.…I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place, unless you repent” (2:2-5). What did the Lord mean? The Lord seemed to be saying, “You do not express Me. You care for works, for endurance, and for many other good things but not for Me. Since you do not care for Me, I do not care for you either.” This is often our situation.

Our situation is often the same. For fifty years I could not change my concept. I constantly had the desire to work for God. I thought I was called by God, so I served God, worked for God, and worshipped God. We all have the same concept. Perhaps we may say to ourselves, “My prayers have not been devout enough, so today I will try to be more devout.” However, God does not care for our devoutness, no matter how devout we are or how devout our prayers are. What then does God want? God wants us to express Him. If we have a sorrowful countenance, we have the expression of a beggar, not the expression of God. Perhaps we may think to ourselves, “Everyone around me is so careless. I am the only one who is careful. I never dare to say anything or make any move, lest I sin against God.” Others’ carelessness may not be worth anything, but in God’s eyes, neither is our carefulness worth anything. People cannot see God in their carelessness, neither can they see God in your carefulness. God is not expressed through either of you because both of you are covered by a veil. The veil covering them is like a thin bridal veil, but the veil covering you is like a thick cow skin. Your piety is worthless, because when people see you, all they see is a sorrowful countenance. This is not what God wants. What God wants is to be expressed through us. Your sorrowful countenance will not lead people to salvation. Only the light of the expression of God through us will cause people to touch God.

(Living in the Spirit, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)