THE BODY BEING CHRIST
We are told in 1 Corinthians 12:12 that the Body is Christ. Christ is the Body. The church is not composed of Americans, Japanese, Chinese, French, Germans, or British. The Body, which is the new man, has no Greek, no Jew, no circumcision, no uncircumcision, no barbarian, no Scythian, no civilized people, and no uncivilized people, but Christ is all and in all (Col. 3:11).
In the church there is only Christ. Christ is all in all. We all must be swallowed up by Christ. If there is only Christ, how can we have any opinions? If there is only Christ, how can we have any self-exalting factors? The divisions come from the different peoples, not from Christ.
In the Body, the expression of the church, there is only one person—Christ. We must enjoy Him and let Him swallow up all the different peoples. This is why in the church there is no Greek and no Jew, no cultured, and no barbarians. All are swallowed up by Christ, not by being taught but by being nourished with the riches of Christ.
We all need to see this clearly. When we go to any place, we must never try to correct or adjust others but only feed them with Christ. It is so easy to correct others, because we are so religious and trust so much in the teachings. But this will never work. We must guard ourselves from any temptation to correct others and simply show them how to enjoy Christ.
Suppose I am a person who is naturally very swift in all my actions, and I go to a certain place where all the people in the church are slow. I will immediately be tempted to correct them. Perhaps in the first two or three days I will exercise some patience, but it is only natural, human patience. After three days my patience will be exhausted, and I will utter something about their being so slow. This is not the way. We must only minister Christ to feed them. If Christ is the quicker One, Christ will do a quick job. If Christ is not so quick, then we must leave the matter to Christ. We should not adjust or correct but feed and nourish them with Christ. People do not need correction but the nourishment and the enjoyment of Christ.
THE CHURCH—THE HOUSE OF GOD
AND PILLAR OF THE REALITY
First Timothy 3:15-16 tells us that the church is the house of the living God. Only Christ Himself could be this house. Therefore, the church must be Christ. When we say that the local church is the house of God, we must realize that this house must be Christ. This house must not be a group of people but Christ alone. Only Christ can be the house of the living God.
In Ephesians 1:17-18 Paul says that our eyes must be opened so that we may see the hope of God’s calling. This hope is Christ, and the riches of the glory of God’s inheritance are simply the riches of Christ. The more we enjoy Christ and partake of Him, the more we will have the riches of the glory of Christ among us. This is the inheritance. God is going to inherit the Christ that is assimilated by the saints. The riches of Christ assimilated by the saints are God’s inheritance, and this is the church. The church must be filled with the enjoyment of the riches of Christ; then we will have the riches of glory for God to inherit.
When Christ Himself is enjoyed by us, we will have the church as the real house of God and the pillar and base of the truth, the reality. Reality is Christ. Nothing on this earth or in this universe is real. Only Christ is the real One, the reality. So the church bears Christ as the reality. The church is the pillar and base to bear Christ and to show to the whole universe that everything is false but Christ. Everything is empty, but the reality is in the church. If you would know real love, come to the church. Christ is here as real love. If you would know real life, come to the church. Christ is here as real life. Christ is the reality. If you would see what faithfulness is, come to the church. The church has Christ as the real faithfulness, because the church bears Christ as the reality. If the church is not filled with Christ, how can the church bear Christ as the reality?
The church is also the manifestation of God in Christ. Here God is manifested, and this is the mystery of godliness. The church is a real mystery of godliness. Outwardly, the people may be of several races and nationalities, but inwardly, the church is Christ. Christ is in the church as the manifestation of God, and this is the mystery of godliness. This is the church.
The key point is that we all must enjoy Christ so that Christ can swallow us up. Then all that we are and have will simply be Christ. This is the essence and the substance of the church life. In the church we are the members of the Body (Rom. 12:4-5). We can never be independent or separated from the church. We must realize that we are a member of the Body wherever we go. How could we be a Christian without the Body, the church? As members of the Body, we do need the church life, and the church life is nothing but Christ Himself enjoyed by us and expressed in a corporate way.
(The Practical Expression of the Church, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)