HAVING NO CHOICE IN THE BODY
At the beginning level, the church is an assembly, a gathering of God’s called ones. The household is a higher aspect of the church than the assembly. Do you prefer the assembly or the household? An assembly may be a group of people having different lives, but a household is a number of persons having the same life of one father. The household is much better than the assembly. To say that the church is an assembly is good, but not that sweet. In the United Nations, there is an assembly. Every session in the United Nations is an assembly—an assembly of debaters and opposers. We do not care for this kind of assembly. However, in the New Testament the assembly means the gathering of the called out ones. It is wonderful to be called out. But simply to be called out, without having the Father’s life, is not so wonderful. To be called out does not indicate that you have the life of the calling one. The assembly does not indicate any life, but the household does.
The Body is a higher aspect of the church than the household. In the household are the “folks,” but in the Body are the members. When the members of a family are happy, they stay together, but when they are unhappy they may fight and depart from one another. However, in the body the arm cannot say to the shoulder, “I do not feel so good about you; I would like to leave you.” The arm cannot leave because it is under the shoulder. Whether it likes the shoulder or not, its destiny is to be with this shoulder. In my early days I was under the “shoulder.” Many times I did not feel so good being there, but I realized that as an “arm” I could do nothing about it. It was neither the shoulder’s mistake nor my mistake; it was the Head’s arrangement. It was the Creator’s arrangement to put me, the arm, under that big shoulder.
Not only was I put under a big shoulder, but I was also arranged to be above so many “small fingers.” You do not know how much trouble all these little ones gave me. I wanted to go one way, but they liked to do things in another way. If I liked to be quiet, they would talk all the time. But if I cut off all the fingers, what could I do? I would be an arm without a hand. The Body of Christ is more binding to us than the household.
If you have seen that the church is the Body, you could never turn away from the church. If you have only seen that the church is an assembly, when you are happy you will stay but when you do not feel happy, you will leave. Even in the household it is the same; once you are unhappy with another member of the family, you may decide to leave. If you have only seen that the church is God’s household, you will not be so steadfast. When you feel happy with the brothers, you will stay, but when you do not feel happy, you will stay away. However, if you have seen that you are a member of the Body, you have no choice. Today many Christians are talking about the Body, but what they are speaking may not be real in their practice. Today they are in one “body,” but after two weeks they will be in another “body.” Then after two months they will be in a third “body.” They have many “bodies.” When you have many “bodies,” none of these is the Body. The Body is uniquely one. Ephesians 4:4 says, “One Body and one Spirit.” There are not many “bodies.” If you are a member in the Body, you could never leave. If you would say that you cannot be here because this is not the Body, either you are wrong or the group with which you meet is wrong.
I am not fellowshipping with you something that I have never experienced. I have been experiencing and am still experiencing the Body. Whether the people here love me or whether they mistreat me, my destiny is to be a member of the Body. I have no choice. The Lord Jesus told us that He gave us a new commandment, that we all love one another (John 13:34), but we may talk about loving one another in a natural way. In our natural mind we all understand how we need to love one another. To love one another could be applied both to the assembly and to the household. In a family the parents always charge the children to love one another. You may also say that the members of the Body need to love one another. But in the Body to love one another is a little different from loving one another in the assembly and in the household. As I mentioned already, in an assembly if I feel happy with you I will stay with you, but if I do not feel happy with you, I may simply leave. Even in a household, if I feel happy with you, I will talk to you, but if I do not feel happy with you, I may stay in my room and close the door. But you can never stay away from the Body. You have no choice. Many times my eyes were filled with tears, but I was happy. On the one hand, we should be happy because we are in the Body. On the other hand, do not think the Body life is so happy.
Many times I have considered in this way. First, I am a man because God created me. I have to be a man; I had no choice regarding my being born. Being a man, I also have no choice but to be a Christian. Third, being a Christian, I have to be in the church. If I am not in the church, it is meaningless for me to be a Christian, and if I am not a Christian, it is meaningless for me to be a man. I have to be a man, I have to be a Christian, and I have to be in the church. Eventually, I am a member in the Body.
Throughout the years I have realized that a number of the saints are ambitious, desiring to have a position. Once a brother becomes an elder, it is very difficult for him not to be an elder. Once he loses the eldership he may be troubled. Although others do not trouble him, he may be troubled by his ambition. A number were troubled because they did not have a chance to be a leader. If they could not be an elder in the church, at least they wanted to be a leader of a service group. However, if you do have the burden to serve and you do see what the church is, you will have the desire to participate in the church service. Whether there is a service group or no service group, you will simply come to serve. The problem here is the impure motive.
My point is that, in the Body, such ambitious persons who choose to be somebody cannot have any peace. As a man I have to be a Christian, as a Christian I have to be in the proper church life, and as one in the proper church life, I have to submit myself to the Body. I have no choice. Do you have the choice? If you feel that you do, then you do not know what the Body is. In the Body to love one another means that we have no choice. You may not care to be a member of the Body, a Christian, or even a man. If so, you will be a very miserable person. We should simply behave ourselves in the Body.
(The One New Man, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)