GROWTH IN LIFE AND BUILDING BEING INSEPARABLE
God’s purpose in coming into us in the form of food to be mingled with us as our life and to grow in us is to build a temple, which is the house of God. Therefore, in the Scriptures we often see that growth and building are linked together.
Nearly all of the verses listed at the beginning of the chapter refer to both growth and building. First Corinthians 3:9b says, “You are God’s cultivated land, God’s building.” As God’s cultivated land, we need to grow; as God’s building, we need to be built up. Therefore, growth is building, and building is growth; these two things cannot be separated. Hence, Ephesians 2 says that this spiritual house, this dwelling place of God, is built up by growing (vv. 21-22), just as our body reaches its full stature by growing. Moreover, 1 Peter 2 says that having been saved and having put away sins, we need to long for the spiritual milk so that we may grow (vv. 1-2). Following this, it says that as living stones we are being built up as a spiritual house (v. 5). Ephesians 4:12-13 says, “Unto the building up of the Body of Christ, until we all arrive…at a full-grown man.” Without growth, there is no building up. The more we grow, the more we are built up. When we are fully grown, then the building will be complete. Hence, God’s growth and mingling in us are God’s building.
THERE BEING NO BUILDING WITHOUT THE GROWTH IN LIFE
Brothers and sisters, this principle is very practical. Today many in the church are short of the building mainly because they do not have enough growth in life. Too many Christians are without adequate growth in life. We often meet some brothers and sisters who have the life of God in them, yet there is no growth. Sometimes when we meet such a one, we even wonder if he is saved. Yet he truly has been saved. He has confessed that he is a sinner and has received the Lord Jesus as his Savior. Indeed, his sins have been forgiven, and he has the life of the Lord in him. Nevertheless, he has no growth, no progress. Today he is exactly the same as he was five years ago. We sometimes refer to someone being an “old child.” What is an “old child”? A child who is one year old is not an “old child,” but after ten years he still looks like a one-year-old, then he is an “old child.” And after twenty years if he is still so small, then he is an “old child” even more. There are too many “old-child” Christians among the brothers and sisters! Sometimes we see a believer who looks like a newly saved one, but when we inquire a little bit, we are surprised that he has already been saved for twenty years. He is as immature as he was twenty years ago. Such a one is an “old-child” Christian.
One thing is certain—Christians who have no growth have never been built up. When you met such a one twenty years ago, he was either blaming this brother for being wrong or criticizing that sister for being improper. Today, twenty years later, when you see him again, he still has no other topic except the mistakes and defects of others. This proves that he has not grown one bit. As a result, we cannot see any building in him. Such a person who is without growth and building is surely a peculiar member in the church. You sense that he is not a stone built into the house but a stone lying beside the house. He is individualistic, secluded, and unable to be one with others. Therefore, he is a member who is detached from the Body of Christ. Furthermore, in the church he is as round, shiny, and slippery as a marble and therefore cannot be blended with others. I surely have met brothers and sisters like this.
This condition is due to the lack of growth. Experience tells us that as long as you have a little growth in life, you can love the brothers and sisters and bear with them. In this way you will be able to be with others in the church. If in your eyes none of the brothers are good or lovable, this shows that you lack the element of God within you and are short of growth in life. This also shows that you have not been eating, drinking, and enjoying God for a prolonged period of time.
THE BUILDING BEING WITH THE GROWTH IN LIFE
Thank God, however, that although man has so many difficulties, God still will do His work. We may refuse to grow, but God has a way to make us grow. For example, someone may suddenly be hit by a car and knocked to the ground while riding a bicycle. This accident may result in an injury that is not too serious but not insignificant either. As a result, while this person is lying in the hospital, he will begin to have a desire for God. At this moment spontaneously he will open his inner being a small crack to let God in. On his bed he will pray and ask for the Lord’s forgiveness, thus restoring his fellowship with the Lord. He may be sorrowful and even weep while he prays, yet within he will also feel sweet. As this is happening the element of God within him will increase a little bit. At that time, not only will he love God, but he will also love the brothers. While he is lying on the hospital bed, he will look forward to seeing the brothers and sisters. If some brothers and sisters come to visit him, instead of feeling disgusted with them, he will feel that all of them are lovable. All of them will be blended and become inseparable.
Dear brothers and sisters, we have to see, therefore, that the real building comes from growth. The more growth there is, the more building there will be. Worldly people form associations and join themselves together, but this is absolutely not what we mean by being built together. Our being built together is altogether by the life we have in common. When this life grows in you and also in me, then we grow together with one another. The more you grow in this life, the more you will love your brothers and sisters and be joined to them, even glued together with them. When you and your brothers and sisters are glued together, it will be impossible to be separated. Hence, building comes from growth.
(The Building Work of God, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)