ONENESS IN JERUSALEM
For centuries that unique center, Jerusalem, kept the children of Israel in oneness. The males were required to appear there before the Lord three times a year; otherwise, they would be cut off.
Suppose I lived in those days and had a quarrel with my neighbor about his barking dog. I would tell him the dog had kept me awake all night. Did not God say, through Moses, that we should love our neighbor as ourself? Didn’t he care that I couldn’t get any sleep all night? The result of the quarrel was that we stopped talking to each other. Two months went by. It was now the seventh month; the feast of tabernacles was coming up. Both my neighbor and I had to go or we would be stoned to death. We both went, he along one lane and I along another. When we reached the foothill of Mount Zion, there was only one way. We had to go up together, singing the songs of ascent. How could we sing, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psa. 133:1) when we were still not at peace with each other? I was the older one. My heart was softened. I greeted him, saying, “Hi, brother. I still love you.”
ONENESS IN THE CHURCH LIFE
Do you see how this unique center forces us to be one? This is the worship in Jerusalem. In the New Testament the worship is in spirit. We know this because Ephesians 2:22 says that God’s dwelling place today is in our spirit. Our spirit is the center where we worship God. The children of Israel were divided into many groups, but whenever they came to Jerusalem they were one. The same is true of us. When we are in our emotions, or in the mind, or in our will, we are divided. Not only can the emotional sisters not be one with the strong-minded brothers; these same brothers cannot be one with each other.
Suppose there is a service group meeting. If you do not go in your spirit, be prepared for arguing. Within ten minutes you will all be expressing your concepts, even if you are only discussing the best time to meet. The problem is not with your heart; you all love the Lord and have a heart for the church. The problem is with your head. You cannot be one with others in your mind.
The best way to come together to serve in oneness is to avoid talk. Pray instead. When we were in Elden Hall in Los Angeles in 1965 to 1967, the serving brothers could not work together. When they met, they began to discuss. (They called it fellowship!) The more they “fellowshipped,” the more opinions they had. Then they would begin to argue. In 1966 pray-reading came in, and then in 1968 calling on the name of the Lord. After that there was no more “fellowship.” When the service groups met, they would pray-read and call on the name of the Lord. This brought them all into one spirit. That was the end of their opinions. Where did they become one? In the spirit. Where are Christians divided? In their mentality.
If we do not keep ourselves in the spirit, but indulge in using our mind, we shall soon be divided. All of us in the recovery must be on the alert. We must have a holy fear of our opinions. Paul told the divisive Corinthians that they should be perfectly attuned to the same opinion (1 Cor. 1:10, Gk.). How can we be attuned to one opinion? It is only by exercising our spirit. If I do not remain in my spirit, I can give you several opinions. We all are opinionated. As long as we are living, we have opinions. While we are listening to a message, we may be thinking about what the speaker is wearing, or why some brother’s hair is cut a certain way. Our opinions are always critical of others. What shall we do about these critical opinions? Let us turn to our spirit; just a little turn, and all criticisms stop.
If you try to eliminate the opinions of the saints by teaching or admonishing, that very teaching is an opinion. It does not help to try to adjust others. Do not make comments about how they dress. Your business is to turn to your spirit. Don’t talk about the Scripture verses that you interpret differently. The best church is the one where opinions are not heard. Everyone practices turning to the spirit.
Many times we are unaware that we are criticizing. We may ask a simple question right after the meeting, like, “How was the meeting this morning?” Such a question unlocks the door to opinion. The reply will be, “Oh, the message was all right, but—.” There is always a but. We must learn to answer such questions with “Praise the Lord!” It is not safe to express any opinion. Whether the meeting is living or dead, have no idea. Exercise not to discuss how it is. It is not easy to stay out of our mind or our emotions and remain in our spirit. In this place there is no vain talk, no unnecessary fellowship, and no opinions. Rather, there is prayer, singing, and praising.
(Life Messages, Vol. 1 (#1-41), Chapter 38, by Witness Lee)