NOT IMPOSING ANYTHING
ON THE SAINTS AND THE CHURCHES
Also, as a worker, as a servant of the Lord, wherever you go you should not impose anything on the saints and on the local churches. You should not push anything or touch anything that may become a factor of creating division.
Suppose you are a worker of the Lord and are also very much for speaking in tongues. One day you come to Los Angeles and find out that the church here does not pay attention to speaking in tongues and may even take the attitude of being against it. Perhaps in the first two weeks you do not say anything about it, but probably in the third week the "fox tail" will come out. After another week, maybe you will stand up to impose something, saying, "Why don’t you speak in tongues? What’s wrong with speaking in tongues?" You may be able to convince a certain number to go along with you and get the same experience as you have had. Then a division is created.
What is the right attitude? Should you demand others to speak in tongues since you feel it is something right? None of us should give up anything that is genuine and right. But when you realize that the saints here do not feel happy about this matter, you have to be careful. If they ask you, "Do you speak in tongues?" you should answer, "Yes, but, brothers, I just minister Christ to others. Speaking in tongues is not my ministry. Of course, if any of you feel the need to speak in tongues, you just do it. But if you don’t feel so, I’m really happy with you. As long as you love the Lord Jesus and you live by Him and glorify Him, I am absolutely for it." We should take such a liberal attitude in truth and in faithfulness. Some brothers would openly deny that they speak in tongues, but secretly try to push people into speaking in tongues. We should never be such two-faced persons.
Do you believe that only those who speak in tongues love the Lord? I do not believe so. In church history, many people who were spiritual and loved the Lord never touched the matter of speaking in tongues. Furthermore, in my Christian life I have seen many spiritual people who did not know anything about speaking in tongues yet who were full of life, power, and authority. In China I made a point to some who spoke in tongues by saying, "Brothers, look at this district. The people here never talk about speaking in tongues, but a great number of sinners have been saved through them. They love the Lord so much, and their preaching is prevailing. It is an undeniable fact. But look at the other district. The people there speak in tongues a lot, but where is the power?"
By this we see that there is no need for you to impose on others the matter of speaking in tongues. On the other hand, there is also no need for those who do not speak in tongues to oppose those who do. As long as people love the Lord Jesus, it is good enough. Let them be free.
If we take the right attitude, eventually the saints will realize that there is no need either to oppose speaking in tongues or to impose it on others. We just leave this matter in the hands of the Lord; we take a liberal attitude. If the Lord gives us this kind of gift, we just receive it from Him. But we would neither impose it nor oppose it. What difference does it make whether or not one speaks in tongues? All we care for is that people preach Christ as the living Savior and that they love Him, live by Him, exalt Him, express Him, and worship Him. This is the right attitude.
The same principle applies to immersion. I believe that baptism by immersion is the right thing, and I am one hundred percent for it. But if I come to this city and realize that the saints here practice sprinkling, I should not be surprised. I should just be happy, for a good number are saved and they love the Lord, seek the Lord, and live by the Lord. This is good enough. Whether they are baptized by immersion or by sprinkling does not mean much. Although I know what is right, I would not impress people with what I know. I would neither impose this nor oppose that. This is the right attitude. If someone comes to ask me with a sincere and proper spirit about this matter, I may fellowship with him, saying, "Brother, I feel that baptism by immersion is the right way, but I don’t like to impose it. If you brothers feel that it is right to baptize people by sprinkling, just go ahead and do it. If you feel, however, that it is more right to have immersion, that is fine. Just do it."
We need to take such a liberal attitude toward all these things. Wherever we go, we have to be careful not to make anything a factor to create divisions, troubles, and problems among the saints. Always try your best to preach Christ, to minister Christ, to solve the problems instead of creating problems. Never have the intention to convince people to stand with you. If you, as a servant sent out by the Lord, have the intention to convince others to stand with you, that is very shameful. It is better that you go to the political circle to be a politician to win people for yourself.
Brothers, we are sent out by the Lord just to minister Christ to others and help others to know Him. We should be willing to be rejected. It is wrong to try to win people over to you. Wherever you go, never say anything different from the current situation there to create any division. For instance, concerning the Lord’s table, you may be absolutely in favor of using one cup for the whole congregation. Suppose you go to a church where many small cups are used. Do not be surprised by it, do not talk about it, and do not even consider it. Just go along with it and take the small cup. Do not raise the question of whether one cup is right or many cups are right. We are not sent by the Lord to minister cups to people. Some people are legal in insisting on using one cup. In the end, they become spiritually dead. The Lord does not honor that. I do not mean, however, that everything is right. We know what is right and what is wrong, but there is no need to pay attention to these trivial things.
In Romans 14 the apostle Paul wrote concerning eating (vv. 2-3) and the keeping of days (vv. 5-6). He was very clear about what was right and what was wrong, but his attitude was not to impose anything upon others, not to push anything, and not to insist on anything. He took a very liberal attitude. As long as people receive Christ as their Savior, love the Lord, live to the Lord, and glorify the Lord as the all-inclusive One, that is good enough. If they keep the days, they keep them to the Lord; if they do not keep the days, they do not keep them to the Lord. As long as they do it to the Lord, it is good enough. This is the attitude we have to take. Then we will not bring damage to the saints and the churches, but we will be a help to them.
(The Life and Way for the Practice of the Church Life, Chapter 13, by Witness Lee)