THE BODY CONSCIOUSNESS
The Body Consciousness—
Submitting to the Authority of the Head,
and Fellowshipping with the Body
What is the church? Outwardly speaking, the church is local. We have covered this in the co-workers’ meetings in 1937. But what is the content and the life of the church? If a church does not stand on the ground of the local church, it is not a church. If a local church would submit itself to the authority of the Head, it is spontaneously a church. In the church, we are members one of another. The meaning of being members one of another is that no one keeps back something for himself. My heart is joined to all the children of God, and it is related to all the members. As members, our experience of coming into the consciousness of the Body is just as definite as our individual experience of touching the Head. The Body has a Body consciousness. This consciousness causes a member to submit to the authority of the Head and causes it also to open up itself to the Body and to have fellowship with the Body. This is what we call Body consciousness.
I will use a somewhat inadequate illustration. When a man travels overseas, he may be a foreigner in another land, but he is still under the headship of his own country. A Chinese who loves China and who lives in a foreign land may tell others that he is China; he does not say that he is a Chinese. But then, some foreign students are ashamed to be known as a Chinese; they often say negative things to the foreigners about China. Some political fugitives are even worse; they are actively damaging China. But those who truly love China have a special consciousness about China. They can say that they are China.
The Body Testimony—
Taking the Head as the Authority
and Being One with All the Saints
A person who has the Body consciousness can say that he is the Body. If you say that you are the Body, yet you do not submit to the authority of the Head, what you say is false. On the contrary, if you are in the Body, you will not just be a drop of water, but you as a drop will be mingled with the sea. By that time you can say that you are the sea.
Outwardly speaking, the church has the locality as its boundary. But as far as its content goes, it takes the Head as its authority. Here all the saints are one in Christ. The local church is not just a local church as such. Within the local church, there is the testimony of the Body, and in this church everyone holds on to the Head.
When we fellowship with all the children of God, we will not criticize others easily. The basic issue is that we have to pray to God to create a Body consciousness within us.
The Way to Have the Body Consciousness—
Dealing with Individualism
How do we turn from a situation that is without Body consciousness to one that is with a Body consciousness? First, we have to deal with our individualism. For everything, we have to know the positive side as well as the negative side. It is not enough merely to know the positive side; we need to know the negative side as well. If we do not know both sides, we will not be able to learn the proper lessons. For example, the opposite side of sins is forgiveness, and the opposite side of justification is ungodliness. The opposite side of salvation is the world. If a man wants to understand forgiveness, he must understand sins. If a man wants to be justified, he has to be delivered from ungodliness. If a man wants to be saved, he must know the world. The Bible seldom says that a man is delivered from hell. Most of the time, it says that a man is delivered from the world. Another example is sanctification. The opposite of sanctification is to be common. The word "holy" is hagios in the original language, and it means to be separated. The opposite of separation is to be common. All the truths in the Bible are in pairs. If we mismatch these pairs, we will be confused.
The opposite of the Body is individualism. Hence, if we want to see the Body, we must first see the negative side of the Body, which is individualism. A man must first deal with his self before he can see the Body. Many people deal with the matter of loving the Lord and of obedience. But the more they deal with them, the more they build up the self, their own righteousness, their goodness, and their holiness. This makes it even harder for them to be mingled with others and to follow the footsteps of the flock.
Individualism is the deepest thing that is hidden in a person. A man needs to be touched by God to such an extent that everything with him is dealt with. Today man only sees the personal sanctification of the Keswick movement. Why do we not speak of corporate sanctification? The sanctification in Hebrews 12 is a corporate sanctification. Today, many people talk about personal faith. Why do we not speak of corporate faith? In the Bible, when it says "the faith," it means the saving truth, whereas "faith" without the article refers to the act of believing. "The faith" refers to the corporate faith of the whole church. Today, man refuses to pay attention to corporate faith and corporate sanctification because he has not seen that what he has is only very little.
(Messages Given During the Resumption of Watchman Nee's Ministry (2 volume set), Chapter 66, by Watchman Nee/Witness Lee)