IDENTIFIED WITH ALL THE CHILDREN OF GOD
There is another problem which we must notice. Some brothers who have seen the ground of the local church feel that if they take this ground, they will be cut off from the fellowship of other groups of Christians. Not too long ago, a brother asked me this question: “How can we take the ground of the local church yet still be identified with all the people of the Lord?” I answered that it is impossible. Why is this so? It is simply because today is a day of division.
For example, we know that before the captivity, all the people of Israel lived in the land of Canaan. At that time, it was possible for everyone to be identified with all the people of God. But at the time of captivity, some were carried away to Egypt, some to Syria, and the majority to Babylon. Thus, they were divided. In this kind of situation, how could one Israelite be identified with all the people of Israel? If he were identified with all those in Babylon, he would be cut off from those in Egypt and Syria. If he were identified with the group in Egypt, he would be cut off from those in Babylon and Syria.
Today it is impossible to identify ourselves with all believers. Do you think you could be identified with the saints in the Roman Catholic Church? It is impossible. However, it is not a matter of being identified with all saints. It is a matter of taking the command of the Lord to return to the proper ground. At the expiration of the seventy years, the Lord commanded all the Israelites to return to Jerusalem. We also must take the Lord’s command to return to our “Jerusalem.” We can never be identified with all the Lord’s people today, because so many will not obey the Lord to come back to the ground of oneness.
Even if we did not take the ground of the church, we could never be identified with all the children of God in the present situation of division. It is impossible, because all the children of God are divided, separated, and scattered. What we must do today is not to be identified with all the Lord’s people but to take the way of the Lord’s recovery by coming back to the original ground. We would like to fellowship with all the saints, but the situation today does not allow us to do so.
There is really no need of taking this matter into consideration. As long as we are willing to be general and ready to fellowship with all the saints, that is sufficient. Whether or not we can identify with all the saints is not our responsibility but their responsibility. They all must come back to “Jerusalem.”
(The Practical Expression of the Church, Chapter 12, by Witness Lee)