The Gospel of John is a book on life, not on the natural life, but on the transferred and transformed life. To fulfill his purpose, John gives us a record to show how the life of the believers of Christ could be transferred by the cross of Jesus and by His resurrection. If you look at the cross of Jesus, you will be transferred. The word of the Lord Jesus to John and to His mother was a word to show us that His life-imparting, life-releasing death transfers people’s lives.
Originally, John was not Mary’s son, and Mary was not John’s mother. But because of the crucifixion of Jesus, Mary, the mother of Jesus, became the mother of John. John, who was the son of Mary’s sister, became Mary’s son. This is not a story of adoption, and it doesn’t mean that the Lord Jesus was like a judge to carry out the adoption as they all stood by the cross. This was not an adoption, but a transfer. According to the life in the flesh, John was Mary’s nephew, and Mary was John’s aunt. But by looking at the cross, they received another life. Another life came into them. In this second life, the nephew becomes a real son, and the aunt becomes a real mother.
The New Testament does not tell us the names of any sons of Peter or Paul according to the flesh. But it does tell us about Mark and Timothy and Titus. The New Testament as a record in the spirit does not tell us about the relationships of the family in the way of the flesh. It gives us a record of our family in the spirit. We have a habit of calling one another brother and sister in the church, but this may be just a religious term unless we have a genuine realization that we are brothers and sisters sharing the same life. If you were to recommend your sister in the flesh to someone, surely there would be a realization deep within you that this one has a special relationship to you. Unless you have a similar realization when you recommend a sister in the Lord, for you to call her your sister is just to use a religious term.
Although we speak of one another as our brothers and sisters so many times in the church life, I have never heard the saints speaking of their sons in the church, their sons in the spirit. This word may seem like a hard word and even an offending word, but we need a strong word to penetrate into us. I do hope the day will come that so many of the saints will have sons according to the spiritual record. We should not call one another brothers and sisters in a meaningless way.
Paul says, "I commend to you our sister Phoebe," and, "Greet Rufus,...his mother and mine." Paul speaks of his mother. The New Testament tells us that Paul had a mother, and that he had two sons. His mother was Rufus’ mother, and his two sons were Timothy and Titus. But none of these was something in the flesh.
To have the practical church life to the uttermost, in the local church there should be some real sisters and some real mothers. In an earlier message it was my burden to share with you that you need to be a serving sister, but now I am burdened to share with you that you need to be a mother. As long as there is a shortage of sisters like Phoebe among us, the church life is not practical. Yet the serving of that sister is at the beginning of Romans 16, in the first verse. When the church life in practicality reaches a peak, in every church there should be some real mothers.
Earlier I suggested that the sisters needed to be trained to be serving ones just as nurses are trained in the hospitals to care for the sick ones, but now I have to say that there has never been a training school on the whole earth to train mothers to be mothers. I have never heard of one person receiving training to know how to be a mother before she became a mother. The only way anyone could become a mother is by delivering a child. Then the child forces her to train herself.
Many parents try to train their children. Eventually they have to give up because the training is not practical. It is like something in a dream. For a young lady, the most practical training to be a mother is one little child. Yesterday she did not know how to be a mother, but today a child was delivered, and tomorrow morning she will begin to be trained. Before very long, she will graduate from this training.
There are a number of good, basic principles that have been missed among the believers for generations. If it were the practice for each one of the new believers to have someone care for them in a particular way as their real spiritual parents, so many of the new ones could be helped in their spiritual life and in the church life.
In his training in 1948 Brother Nee told the saints, especially the sisters, that they should be a mother to another young saint. Many sisters could each take care of two or three children in the spirit.
For the most part, children do not like to respect the word of their own parents, especially when they become teen-agers. But if I would take your children as my children, they would respect my word. If my children have some problems, they would not open themselves to me. But if you would take them as your children, they would open up their whole being to you. Although they would not take anything that I would say to them, they would receive whatever you would say. There are many problems with the parents and the teen-agers. Very few teen-agers would be submissive and obedient. Yet even the troublesome ones would be happy to listen to someone other than their own parents.
We all need a second birth, and we all need a second mother. If you sisters would pick up the burden by looking at the cross, getting yourself transferred in life, and take some young ones of junior high school age to be your children, within five years there will be a revival in the church. The best way is to have a life transfer by looking at the cross. You need to bring a young one to the cross to look at the crucified Jesus. He will say, "Look at your mother. This is your mother." And He will say to you, "Look at your son. This is your son," or, "This is your daughter."
All the sisters of all ages need to be a mother to someone else. Taking care of a child will cause you to grow and to be mature. In the natural life, the best way for the young ones to mature is for them to have two children. Even more, to pick up some younger ones as your children in the spirit will cause you to grow.
However, to take care of some in this way is a big test. If your natural life has not been crossed out, has never had a transfer, this practice will become a snare. You will fall into the natural love and be trapped by the fleshly emotion. Such a practice will work only by a life transfer through the cross.
In the church life we need the real sisters and the real brothers, and especially we need the real mothers. All of the sisters need to be encouraged to take care of some children in the spirit. This is not a matter that can be assigned to the sisters, but there is the need for you to pick up the burden.
(Loving Mothers in the Church Life, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)