RECOVERING THE CHURCH LIFE AS THE ISSUE OF THE ENJOYMENT OF CHRIST
Today the Lord is recovering the church life. We all have to realize what the church life is. The church life is the issue of the enjoyment of Christ. We cannot have a proper church life merely by teaching or gifts. In the past four or five centuries all kinds of teachings have been recovered, applied, and tested. The result has been division after division. All divisions come from different teachings. Whenever there is a great teacher, the result may be a division.
Today’s Christianity has been divided mainly by two things—teachings and gifts. Today people pay attention to the charismatic things, the gifts, but many of those who emphasize the gifts are the most divisive. The charismatic groups have been divided again and again into division after division. I was in the charismatic movement for a period of time, and I received power and gifts. The real power, however, is life. Gifts and life can be compared to a thunderstorm and small flowers. A powerful thunderstorm can blow through a city, but eventually it goes away. Flowers and grass, however, continue to live and grow day by day. The church life does not need thunderstorm power; it needs life power.
The Lord’s intention today is to have the recovery of the church life. The church life is a life in which day by day all the members feed on Jesus. Christ came as food to be taken in by His people. We all have to eat Jesus. Whoever takes Christ as food is a part of His Body. All the members of the Body of Christ should be the eaters of Jesus. We can be a part of Jesus only by eating Jesus. Because we eat Jesus, we become Jesus. We are members of Jesus by eating Jesus.
In 1966 the Lord gave us pray-reading. By pray-reading, many hundreds of saints have been brought into oneness. The more we pray-read, the more we are brought into oneness. If a few brothers come together only to recite and study John 1:1, after a short time they will fight. If they do not fight, they will at least be unhappy with each other. However, if these same brothers come together and pray-read, there will a different result. If I say, “Hallelujah, in the beginning!”, you say, “Amen!”, and two brothers say, “Was the Word!” after only ten minutes we will shout, “Oh, the sweetness! Oh, the oneness! Oh, the Spirit!”
From the beginning to the end, the Bible is a matter of eating. There is the tree of life in Genesis 2, the manna in the wilderness, and the produce of the good land. Then of the four Gospels, the Gospel of John especially reveals eating. The Lord tells us that He is the bread of life for us to eat. Eventually, in the last chapter of Revelation, there is no power, knowledge, or gifts. There is only a throne, from which a river flows, and on either side of the river is the tree of life (22:1-2). “Blessed are those who wash their robes that they may have right to the tree of life and may enter by the gates into the city” (v. 14). The eating of the tree of life is for eternity.
We need power, but this is not something for the normal daily life of the church. The church is God’s cultivated land (1 Cor. 3:9). The church is a harvest, a crop. Because the church is a crop, Paul says, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused the growth” (v. 6). This planting, watering, and growing are all things related to life. Never forget that the church is a cultivated land, a harvest, and that all the members of the church need the growth in life. We can grow only by eating. There is no other way to grow.
(Enjoying the Riches of Christ for the Building Up of the Church as the Body of Christ, Chapter 5, by Witness Lee)