RECEIVING A PERSON
INTO THE BREAD-BREAKING MEETING
If a brother has been received into the bread-breaking meeting, he is not received into the assembly in Hangchow, Tientsin, or Soo-chow but into the churches of God, the (outward) house of God. When we receive a brother in Hangchow, we are receiving him on behalf of the churches in Tientsin, Shanghai, Soo-chow, and other places. If we intend to receive a person in Shanghai and think that the brothers in Hangchow and Peking may not receive him, we should not receive him either. We cannot act independently. If you know that the thing you are about to do in your locality will be considered inappropriate in other localities, you must not take care of the views of the few in your locality and do it anyway. If you do it, you are not discerning the Body of Christ. If what we do individually cannot represent the brothers in Shanghai, we should not do it. By the same token, if a matter cannot pass the unanimous approval of the whole church, it is not a move of the Body but an individual move. In the Bible there is only the move of the Body; there is no move of individuals.
If a brother wants to be received into the bread-breaking meeting, we must examine him carefully because we are receiving him not only on behalf of the brothers in Shanghai, but also on behalf of the brothers meeting in Tientsin, Hangchow, Wenchow, and other places. However, when a brother goes to another locality to break bread, the brothers in the locality should not examine him further. All he needs to do is to bring a letter of recommendation with him. The brothers in the other localities should believe what the brothers in Shanghai have done and receive him into the bread-breaking meeting based on the letter of recommendation. We have to be very careful in what we do in order to care for the brothers in the other localities.
RECOGNITION OF THE GIFTS
Furthermore, if the brothers meeting in Soo-chia-tsui in northern Kiangsu recognize a certain person as having a certain gift, whether a pastor, teacher, or evangelist, he should be able to be a pastor, teacher, or evangelist in Shanghai as well. The brothers in Shanghai should recognize the gift of such a person also. A gifted person does not lose his gift by moving from one locality to another locality. Therefore, a local assembly has to recognize the gifts that are recognized by another local assembly. If God has given a person the pastoral gift, he will be recognized as a pastor in northern Kiangsu, and we should also recognize his pastoral gift when he comes into our midst. If Shanghai recognizes a certain person as having the ability to preach the gospel, Peking should recognize the same thing. Although offices may change through change of location, gifts do not change through moving to a different location. Gifts are not local, but offices are local. Therefore, every time an assembly wants to recognize a gift, it has to be careful because not only does that particular assembly have to recognize his gift, but the brothers in other places have to recognize his gift as well. Therefore, we must care not only for ourselves but for the whole church.
Concerning the matter of the co-workers, let me first relate one incident to you. A brother who was working in a certain place wanted to invite another brother to his locality to work. He came and asked me if he should make the invitation. I told him that he did not have to ask me but that he should consider whether or not the brother would be received if he were introduced to the assemblies in Peking, Shanghai, or Nanking. He was afraid that the brother would not be received. Then I told him that if that was the case, he could not receive this brother and invite him to work in his place either. If he recognized such a one as a co-worker, he would be bringing him into the work of his other co-workers as well. He should not receive a person on behalf of himself or the few who are meeting in his local assembly; he should receive him on behalf of the whole Body of Christ. If men like the apostle Paul were still living on earth, he would be receiving such a person as a co-worker on behalf of Paul, Peter, and others, and he would be adding a worker to them as well. If he did not receive in this way, he would be acting independently. All independent actions have no place in the Body of Christ and must be rejected. Every assembly has to be careful not to have an independent action but learn to follow God, so that the action of any one assembly becomes a joint responsibility of all the assemblies in other places.
NO CHANGE THROUGH MOVING TO ANOTHER LOCALITY
Suppose you have fellowship with a certain brother in Peking. If he comes to Shanghai, he should fellowship with us. It would be wrong if he came to Shanghai and did not fellowship with us. We have a brother by the name of Yu Shin-liang. When he was in Kuling, a few Western brothers often came to meet with him, and they had fellowship one with another. When Brother Yu came to Shanghai, two of these Western brothers also came to Shanghai. They were in Shanghai for a few months, but they never came to break bread with us. When I asked Brother Yu about these brothers, he told me that they had been in Shanghai for a few months. I asked why they would not come to Hardoon Road to break bread with us, and he answered that they did not come because they were too busy. However, they did not come because of other reasons, not because they were busy. This is to act independently; this is not the action of the Body. Since they had fellowship with Brother Yu in Kuling, why would they not fellowship with those who have fellowship with Brother Yu in Shanghai? If they had fellowship with Brother Yu in Kuling, they should be able to fellowship with all those who have fellowship with Brother Yu in Shanghai. They should not just fellowship with Brother Yu and refuse to fellowship with those who have fellowship with Brother Yu. When they fellowship with Brother Yu, they have chosen to fellowship not only with Brother Yu but also with all those who have fellowship with Brother Yu. They should not choose to fellowship only with some brothers in some meetings; they should choose to fellowship with those in all the other meetings who have fellowship with their meeting.
Suppose there is a meeting in Shanghai today. You may come to break bread because you think that this place is better than other places and that you can hear good messages here. As a result, you begin to communicate and fellowship with the brothers who are meeting here. A little while later, you may move to Peking. There you will find brothers who are in fellowship with us also. But their number may be only a handful, and the meetings may be weak. However, in Peking there may be another place with a famous speaker, who is eloquent but who does not fellowship with us. When you arrive in Peking, you may wonder in your heart whether you should meet with the very weak brothers or listen to the famous speaker. If you go to the place with the famous speaker, it is an independent action. When you fellowship with us, you have fellowshipped with all the brothers who have fellowshipped with us, and you cannot choose the place of meeting any longer. This is the principle of fellowship in the Body. You cannot act independently.
Many times, we think that if we could have our choice, we would change our place of meeting all the time. But there is no such thing as this. In the meetings, we have the greatest blessings, but we also bear the greatest responsibilities and have the greatest restrictions. If you go to Peking, you have to break bread at Brother Shu Tsong-jie’s place. If you go to Tientsin, you have to break bread at Brother Lee Shun’s place. If you go to Chefoo, you have to go to Brother Witness Lee’s place. They are assemblies standing on the ground of the church. Do not think that the denominations bind people. Our fellowship binds people even more than the denominations bind people. What others have is an organization according to law. What we have is an organism in the Body. I am afraid that no denominations bind men as much as the principle of the organism of the Body, which we recognize. None of the members in our body can move freely for a day. Even a finger cannot have a day of freedom. The bondage we have is the bondage of the Body. As such, we have no personal freedom. Therefore, brothers, may we truly see the Body of Christ. If we see it, we will not act independently. After we have believed in the Lord, not only are we saved, but we also should act as brothers by standing in the position of a brother. We should not only be Christians, but among the brothers, we should behave as good brothers. Only then are we actually loving the brothers.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 2) Vol. 22: The Assembly Life & The Prayer Ministry of the Church, Chapter 5, by Watchman Nee)