INSISTING ON NOTHING BUT CHRIST AND THE CHURCH
We should not insist on anything, but keep the oneness for the church life in spite of all dissenting matters. We must be delivered from the divisive elements of all different opinions. How can we be delivered? It is only possible by caring only for Christ and the church. We must be filled with Christ and strong in our spirit for the church life.
Suppose I am a brother who loves to practice a certain thing which to me is very scriptural, and when I come to a certain local church, I find that the church opposes that very thing. But regardless how much they oppose it, they are still the church there. I am for that thing, because it helps me enjoy Christ; but since the church opposes it, I should not insist on practicing it in the public meetings. When I am at home, however, I will still practice it very much. Then I will be so burning with Christ that when I come to the meetings, I will come burnt and burning. I will not speak of that very thing, but I will be burning with Christ. If there is the slightest opportunity, the fire of Christ will get into the meeting through me. Whoever I contact, whether he be an elder or a brother, will be burnt. Perhaps after a certain time, the entire church will be burned by me.
We should not be for anything but Christ and the church. If I am one who is so much for doctrines and teachings, it is certain that I will cause trouble in the church. When I come to a certain local church and feel that they do not have any order, I will move to correct them. But if I do this, it proves that I do not know Christ so well as life and that I am not strong in the spirit for the church life. If I am full of Christ and strong for the church, I will not care what they do or what kind of doctrine they have; I will only praise the Lord that here is a local church on the proper ground where I can minister Christ. I will be afire in the spirit and so full of Christ that when I come to the meetings, I will minister Christ to others. I will be for Christ and the church—nothing else. I will not care for right things or wrong things; I will only care for Christ and the church.
If I am such a person, most of the seeking ones sooner or later will be helped by me, and the Christ whom I experience and minister will also be a living experience to them. This will keep the oneness and strengthen the church life. It is by keeping the oneness of Christ that the church is enriched; it is doctrines or different opinions that damage the Body. Eventually, the people in that place will not care for anything other than Christ and the church. They will not care for what is right or wrong; they will just care for Christ and the church.
THE WAY TO KEEP THE ONENESS
Here is the way for us to keep the proper oneness. We must not try to convince others of our opinions, but just be strong in the spirit, rich in the experience of Christ, and care for the proper church life.
There are always two things that cause problems in the church. The first is that people continually desire that others be the same as they. The second is that people want regulations. They always ask, “Which way is right? Is this the right way?” We are all like this, and we must by all means be delivered from these things. What we need is not regulations but to be filled with Christ and rich in the church life. We should not be for this way or for that way but just for Christ and the church.
In everything other than Christ and the church, we must be liberal and general. There is no need for us either to oppose or impose anything other than the Lord as life and the church as His expression. Perhaps some will think that I am too liberal and do not care for the Bible. But I would ask them to read Romans 14 again and care for this chapter as they care for the whole Bible. The apostle Paul is so liberal and general in this chapter, and he tells us to be such. The book of Romans has not only chapter 12 but also chapter 14. People today pay much attention to chapter 12 but neglect chapter 14. But without chapter 14, it is impossible to have the real Body life of chapter 12. The Body life of chapter 12 requires the liberal and general attitude of chapter 14 so that its oneness may be kept. Otherwise, it will be damaged by dissenting opinions and different concepts in certain matters. If we do mean that we care for the Bible, we must care for this chapter, Romans 14.
Perhaps there are some who do not like to hear everyone saying Amen in the meetings. But those who say Amen do have the ground to say it. When the people of Israel came into the land of Canaan, the entire congregation said Amen (Deut. 27:11-26), and in Revelation 5:14 and 19:4 the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders said Amen. They will turn to you and ask, “Where is your ground for not saying Amen?” Who is right and who is wrong? In any case, we must be liberal with all things like this. We must not care for all such things, but only for Christ and the church life.
I have a deep conviction that in these last days the Lord will recover the proper church life. He will not care for these doctrinal things, just as He did not care for such things when He first came. At that time the Lord Jesus and His forerunner, John the Baptist, abandoned all the religious customs. They did not surrender God, but they gave up the religion of Judaism. I believe that now, at the time of His second coming, the Lord will repudiate all the forms, regulations, and dead doctrines of Christianity.
(The Practical Expression of the Church, Chapter 7, by Witness Lee)