The Body of Christ is not a doctrine; it is something living. We all must learn this one thing: Only when every member functions is there the Body of Christ. Only when every member functions is that the church.
Our problem today is that we have inherited the priestly system of Roman Catholicism and the pastoral system of Protestantism. If we are careless at the present time, there will also appear a certain kind of mediatorial system among us. We will be the only ones who take care of the matters in God’s service. Merely preaching the Body of Christ is useless; we must let it work and show forth its functions. Since it is the Body of Christ, we need not fear that it will lack the functions. Since it is the Body of Christ, we can place our faith in it. The Lord wants every member in every locality to rise up and serve.
If I am right, according to my discernment it is possible that the time has come. The letters I have received from different places and the news I have heard from every place indicate that today in every place all the saints are ready to come forth to serve. God has gone ahead of us; we must follow Him.
It is not my desire that even one brother from among us would go out and fail to lead the brothers and sisters to serve but would replace them instead. I hope that when you go to a certain place, you will lead eight or ten to serve at the beginning and then after a certain time they will lead sixty, eighty, or a hundred to serve. Then on your next visit you may see one or two thousand people serving. This is proper. If you must use the five-talented ones to suppress the two-talented ones and the two-talented ones to suppress the one-talented ones, you are not the Lord’s servant. If you must use the five-talented ones to replace the two-talented ones and the two-talented ones to replace the one-talented ones, you are not the Lord’s servant. You must cause all the five-talented ones to rise up and serve and all the two-talented ones to rise up and serve, and you must also cause all the one-talented ones to rise up and serve. You must also cause those whom you think are not useful to rise up and serve. Thus, the glorious church will appear.
In Foochow I would rather see all the simple villagers serving than three or five outstanding ones preaching. I do not admire the outstanding ones. I like the one-talented ones.
In His graciousness the Lord could give us more Pauls and Peters, but He has not done so. The whole world is full of one-talented brothers and sisters. What shall we do with these people? Where are we going to put them?
In this training here on the mountain, if God really deals with our self and with our work to the extent that we go out to provide a way for all the one-talented ones to serve, for the first time the church will begin to see what brotherly love is and Philadelphia will appear.
Today the church needs not only oversight but also brotherly love. I believe in authority, and I also believe in brotherly love. Without authority the church cannot go on. “And have kept My word’’—this is authority. “And have not denied My name’’—this is authority. Philadelphia had these two kinds of authority. But Philadelphia herself is brotherly love. All the brothers come forth and serve in love. When such a day comes, we will begin to know what the church is. Otherwise, if the present condition continues, we will still be hanging on to the tail of Roman Catholicism and Protestantism; we will not know what the brothers of Philadelphia are and what the authority of the church is.
(Further Talks on the Church Life, Chapter 5, by Watchman Nee)