Do not try to be neutral. Do not try to reconcile the denominations with the local church. You can never reconcile them. Can you reconcile black with white? You can, but it will be grey; it will neither be black nor white.
We all must be so absolute. If you feel the denominations are right, then continue in them. But if you feel they are wrong and you have seen something of the local church, then pay the full price. Never be neutral.
Some have tried their best to get us to compromise even a little. But we made it clear that that is one thing we can never do. We can never compromise. The Lord never taught us to compromise. If we like black, we take black. If we prefer white, then we take white.
All problems issue from this one thing: a lack of absoluteness. I am so glad when a sister gets married and proudly proclaims, “I am Mrs. So-and-so.” This is the right principle. If we have seen the light regarding the local church, we must be absolute. We must be wrecked, spoiled, and ruined for this way. We all must learn to be absolute. We need not ask, “What should I do?” If we are absolute, ninety-nine percent of our problem has been solved. If we are absolute, we will immediately be clear, and we will know what to do.
Of course, the old ties will be cut. We will be wrecked and the bridges will be burned behind us. But I am afraid that with many the bridges are still there. They think they can experiment to see if it will work. If it will, they will stay. If it will not, they will step back over the bridge. But they will never see anything in that way, and they will never be clear. There must be no bridges behind us. Then we will be clear regarding what we must do.
When a person is so absolute and burdened with the vision concerning the local church, he will pray prevailingly. He will even pray by calling all heaven and earth to be his witness. “Lord, I call heaven and earth to witness for me. I am sold for Your purpose of the local church!” This kind of prayer will shake the darkness and will be so prevailing. Those who are absolute in this way will have the Lord’s authority and the Lord’s presence in a powerful way.
The way of the local church is not a small matter. Please do not be somewhat influenced and say, “Well, this is something better. I will try it.” Have you realized that all the Israelites who attempted to enter the good land were not successful? Not one of them entered. Only the two who were so absolute got in. They took the attitude that regardless of how big the giants were in the land, they must enter, and they did. Praise the Lord! If you say, “Let us try,” that is the end. This is not a way for trial but a way to which we must be sold.
The local church is a lampstand. In the dark night it is extremely easy to find a lampstand. So many people in the Far East who have never come to the United States know where the church in Los Angeles is. The shining of the church in Los Angeles has gone throughout the whole world. In the darkness it is very easy for people to see the lighthouse. If you go to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco at night, you can clearly see the lighthouse. The local church is such a lampstand. Nothing can cover it, and nothing can hide it. Do not be concerned about finding the local church in a certain city. If there is a lampstand there, it will be easy to find.
If you go to a place where there is a meeting, but there is a question regarding the ground they take, it may not be the local church. If it is the lighthouse, there is no need to question it. If you must ask, “Is this the lighthouse?” it may not be the lighthouse. We must not make our local gathering so obscure. The local church must be so definite and absolute. We should be able to say, and others should be able to say, “This is the local church.” There are some places that are exceedingly ambiguous. They cause one to question whether they are the local expression of the church or not.
O brothers, may the Lord be merciful to us! No one can force us to take this way; but once we see it, no one can force us to drop it. It is so precious that we would never drop it. If we drop it, then we simply have no way to go on as a Christian. The only way to follow the Lord absolutely is to go the way of the local church.
(The Practical Expression of the Church, Chapter 10, by Witness Lee)