NOT FOR DOCTRINES, FORMS, OR PRACTICES
Now we must see some of the practical lessons of the church life so that we may know how to behave in the local church.
When we leave the denominations and come to the ground of oneness, we must learn immediately that we are not for any doctrine, form, or practice. We are absolutely for Christ as life. We can never stress this point too much. We are not here for anything but Christ as our life. We are not here for any doctrine, form, or practice. Why must I emphasize this one thing? It is because this helps to deliver us from our different opinions in these three categories. It is so easy to have different opinions regarding doctrines, forms, and practices.
Suppose you are in Sacramento and you leave the denomination that you are in. You discover that a group of believers are meeting on the proper ground in Sacramento, and you proceed to meet with them. Suppose, then, that you find there something that you do not agree with. They may pray-read very loudly, and you may feel that you simply cannot go along with that. What then would you do?
We must remember that on the proper ground we do not stand for any doctrine, form, or practice. We only stand for Christ as life. We must not care whether they have pray-reading or something else. As long as it is not sinful, it is all right. If they minister Christ as life, we will receive the proper help. We must not oppose or impose anything, but simply minister Christ as life to them in a living way.
When you go to a church and simply minister Christ as life, you will be no problem. If they do something that you do not like, you must not say a word. Whatever they do, you should not care. All you must seek to do is to minister Christ as life to them. The longer you stay there, the more the church will be nourished, strengthened, and built. All the saints there will be so happy that the Lord has sent you to them. If you go there to criticize their pray-reading and everything they do, you will only damage yourself and the church. This will really frustrate the fellowship in that church. We all must realize that on the church ground, we are here for nothing but Christ as life. We are not for any doctrine, form, or practice.
Another lesson we must learn is never to adjust others. As long as their behavior is not sinful, we should leave them alone. To be sinful is one thing, and to be wrong is another. For instance, the best time for us to meet during the weekdays may be 7:30 P.M. But suppose the leading brothers decide to have the meeting at 7:00 P.M. This may be wrong, but it is not sinful. Suppose that such a decision is made. Would you say anything? Could you come joyfully without saying a word? You may say that this is asking too much, but we need something which is too much to test us. Then we will know where we are.
It is far too easy for us to criticize and say something. It is really difficult to be quiet in the church life. The car you drive can be driven in your way. But if you are not behind the steering wheel, you must allow others to drive. You may think that if only you were in the position of responsibility, everything would be right. But the Lord has sovereignly placed others in this position. This is a test to see if you are really for the church life.
You may say that the leading brothers in your church are not so good. But I can tell you that every leading brother is not so good. There is not one exception. If you cannot go along with those where you are, you will never be able to go along with those in other places.
Wherever we are in a local church, regardless of how wrong they are, we must go along with them as long as they are not sinful. Of course, if the leading brothers put up an idol and say that we all must worship it, we must stand against this because it is sinful. To hold something which is sinful is one thing, but to do something which is wrong is another. It is rather difficult to ascertain the standard of right and wrong. What is the standard for right, and what is the standard for wrong? It is really difficult to know.
(The Practical Expression of the Church, Chapter 13, by Witness Lee)