QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS CONCERNING THE CHURCH
The Church Being a Great Test
Someone once asked what we should do if two churches with similar conditions but different grounds were established in the same locality on the same day by two different persons? This question is one hundred percent based on a supposition, and it would be very hard for such a thing to happen. In fact, it would be impossible for two churches to have the same condition and begin their meeting on the same day. If a meeting has already been raised up in a locality on the clear and proper ground, we should simply join the believers there when we go there. How could we raise up another church? If a woman has been married, no one else can take her and marry her. If she is married again, this will be bigamy. If there is no clear and proper ground in a certain locality, we have the ground to start to meet there. However, if there is already the clear and proper ground, and we establish another meeting, this will be a denomination. This violates the principle of taking the locality as the boundary.
If two meetings of similar condition were raised up at different times in the same locality, in order to decide which one has the proper ground, we would have to look at when they were established. Moreover, we could also inquire into their genealogy. In the Bible there is such a thing as inquiring into one’s genealogy. In the Old Testament a group of priests were excluded from the service of God because their names were not found in the genealogical registry of Israel (Neh. 7:61-65).
Only those whose eyes have been enlightened will make inquiries concerning the matter of the church. The majority of people simply do not care. Some people may ask, “Isn’t it good that some have a desire to serve God? Isn’t it good that some sisters who previously did not practice head covering have been covering their heads since they began meeting with us?” We have to remember that God does not take the matter of the church lightly. Rather, God is very serious and will not approve of anything ambiguous. Nothing tests us more than the church. Once we touch this matter, our inward condition is exposed. When we talk about prayer, our problems are not that exposed. When we talk about gospel preaching, our problems are not that exposed. When we talk about pursuing the Lord, our problems are not that exposed. However, once we talk about the matter of the church, our inner condition is completely exposed. Once we touch the matter of the church, we are put to the test. Over these past years we have learned to base eighty percent of our knowledge concerning a person upon how he views the church.
For example, recently someone said, “How good it is to have believers and the Lord’s gospel everywhere!” This word sounds nice and is pleasant to one’s ears. But the fact is that not only is such a person ignorant regarding the church, but he is also indifferent. He has never learned any basic or serious lessons before God. Only those who have not learned any serious lessons before God could say that this situation is good. Those who have learned serious lessons would never say that this is good, because they know what is good and what is not good. A person who has genuine insight and has learned some lessons before God would not consider that the situation everywhere is the same.
Having the Universal Fellowship on the Ground of Locality
Someone once asked, “It is said that there is a group of people meeting in Kangshan whose condition is similar to ours and who also do not have a name for themselves. What kind of attitude should we have toward them?” We need to be clear concerning the basic matter of the church. On the one hand, the church is expressed locally, and on the other hand, the church is universal. Do not think that since we are the church in Pingtung, we do not need to care about other Christians in the world or that it is good enough just to meet as the church in Pingtung. If some Christians are raised up in Kangshan who are also on the clear and proper ground but do not have any contact with other churches, then they will soon become a denomination. When we see the seriousness of this, we will know how to render help to them. We should not condemn them or put any demand on them; rather, we should have much fellowship with them. Then at a certain stage in the fellowship they will be enlightened inwardly. They will see that their being raised up to stand on the proper ground was right but that they also should maintain spiritual fellowship with all those who stand on the same ground. Suppose the brothers in Pingtung say, “We will not have any contact with you who are in Taipei. It is good enough that we have the proper ground in Pingtung.” Locally, they are correct, but universally, they are divisive. Hence, we have to help people see that while the ground is local, fellowship is universal.
(The Path of Our Growth in Life, Chapter 9, by Witness Lee)