MINISTERING CHRIST IN THE PRACTICAL SERVICE
The purpose of all we do in the church service is to minister Christ to others. Everything we do should minister life to others. This is the fifth point in the church service.
Suppose you come to the meeting hall to take care of some practical matters, to arrange the chairs, to do some cleaning work, or to take care of the kitchen. Whatever you are doing, you should take that as an opportunity to minister Christ to others. If you are cleaning, your cleaning should minister life to others. You need to minister Christ by cleaning. If you are teaching, your teaching should minister life to others. Merely to minister some knowledge to others is not enough. You need to minister Christ by teaching. It is the same with cooking. Even by cooking you should minister Christ.
The Way to Minister Christ
An illustration may help us understand how to minister Christ by taking care of all the practical things. In 1948 there was a conference in Shanghai with many co-workers from many places throughout the whole country, and there was a fellowship dinner for all the co-workers with the local saints. A very capable sister, who was at that time a head nurse in a large hospital, took care of many things related to the serving, the preparing, the cooking, and the arranging. She was very strong in character, and she was very prominent in everything that was done for the whole evening. Yet no one could sense Christ in her. She was highly qualified, and she did many good things, yet nothing of life was ministered through her, and the saints did not receive help from her.
Another sister was serving at that same dinner, and she was the only one of the serving ones who did anything wrong. She did something seriously wrong, and everyone there realized what she had done. Yet in this sister everyone could sense Christ. She had learned something of Christ, how to live in Christ, how to act in Christ, and even how to adjust her wrongdoings in Christ. All the co-workers there were helped by the one who did something seriously wrong, but they were not helped by the capable sister who did so many good things. It is possible to do many things in the Lord’s service and yet have nothing of Christ ministered through you or by you.
The Goal and the Means
There are many lessons to learn in ministering Christ to others by cleaning, by cooking, and by doing many different practical things. It seems that we are so spiritual, so Christ-like, when we come together for a meeting, but when we are in the kitchen it seems that we are anything but Christ-like. We need to learn the lesson to serve others and to serve God by ministering Christ to others no matter what we are doing. If you are in the spirit when you are playing the piano, by playing the piano you will minister Christ to others. As the church we are here to do nothing else but minister Christ to others. To cook a good meal for the saints, to prepare a good place for meeting, to play the piano in a skillful way—none of these things are meaningful unless they minister Christ to others. Whatever we do in the service of the Lord should minister Christ to others. We have much to learn in this matter.
In Shanghai there was an elderly sister who was very much with the Lord. It was her habit to invite the young missionary ladies who had just come to China to have tea with her in the afternoon. By serving tea to those young missionaries, this sister ministered Christ to them. A number of those young sisters could testify how much the life of the Lord was ministered to them by the serving of that tea. This sister did not teach them or say anything to adjust them, but she ministered life to those younger ones.
At one time some of those young missionaries were wearing stylish dresses, with the skirts a little too short. This elderly sister invited them to tea. While they were drinking tea, several times this sister pulled her skirt down so that she was more fully covered. Finally the other sisters began to check their own skirts. Without a word being spoken, those young ladies received a great adjustment. To serve tea was not the purpose of this elderly sister. It was simply the means by which Christ could be ministered.
To minister Christ as life to others should be the purpose of all the things we do, whether we are cleaning, arranging, cooking, visiting, ministering the Word, singing, or praying. All the practical things in the church life are nothing but the channels, the means through which, by which, and in which we would minister Christ to others.
If others cannot sense Christ in the kitchen while you are cooking, it is doubtful that they will sense Him in the meetings in a real way. To have Christ ministered in the meetings, we need to exercise ourselves in such a way in doing all the practical things that Christ will be ministered in the practical things. Every part of the service of the church must minister Christ as life.
We need to learn to serve in the spirit, and we need to learn to do all the things in the service of the church in a way that ministers Christ to others. This is our aim and purpose.
Unless we learn the lessons in these matters, the church life will be damaged, and death will be brought in through the practical matters. On the one hand, the saints may be taking care of the practical things together, but on the other hand, they may be talking nonsense or gossiping. The channels of talking and gossiping during the church service will bring death into the church life and scatter the death if the saints do not learn to serve in the spirit and minister Christ to one another. In that case, the more the saints come together for the practical service, the more the church life will be damaged.
May we all learn to minister Christ as life to others whenever we come together to serve in the church life. May we all learn to serve in the spirit to minister Christ as life to others.
(Basic Principles for the Service in the Church Life, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)