THE GROUND OF LOCALITY BEING FOR ONENESS NOT FOR DIVISION
I regret to say that some of the saints who have read our publications concerning the ground of locality have used them to cause division. Some have said that they are taking the ground of locality in a certain city and that they do not want to have fellowship with others. This is a true division. The ground of locality is for oneness, not for division. If we take the ground of locality as a standing to be independent from other believers, we are divisive.
The Lord Jesus has only one flock in the whole universe and on the whole earth. Regardless of how many local churches there are, there is still one flock. The brothers in Akron are the local church there, but they should not say that they have nothing to do with the church in Chicago. If they say this, they lose the character of oneness, and they become a local sect. There are many local churches on this earth, yet they all are still one flock. Nothing can divide us. Even geography cannot divide us. Due to distance, of course, the saints meeting in Chicago as the church in Chicago cannot meet day by day with the church in Los Angeles. We are separated by geography, but we are not divided. We are still one flock.
Concerning the ground of locality, some in a certain locality told me, “We are the local church here, so we will build up something uniquely local. Look at a finger. Doesn’t it have its own distinction?” In response I said, “Yes, it does have its distinction, but do not forget that the circulation of the blood is one in all the fingers. You may have a distinction in your place, but the fellowship must be one. For a finger to keep its distinction by cutting itself off from the circulation causes isolation and death. This kind of meeting is a sect. We are all distinctive enough naturally. There is no need for us to build up our distinction. Rather, we have to tear down all the distinctions.” We must try our best to have fellowship among all the local churches. This is not to be organized, however. To be organized is wrong.
EXERCISING TO FELLOWSHIP AMONG THE LOCAL CHURCHES FOR MUTUAL HELP
Today all the local churches in the United States can testify that they have received help from the church in Los Angeles, and the church in Los Angeles has also received help from the other churches. Today we practice “pray-singing” by praying over the lines of a hymn after we sing it. This did not start in Los Angeles. Los Angeles learned this from another locality. Similarly, pray-reading did not begin in Los Angeles. Los Angeles learned pray-reading from others. Do not think that the church in Los Angeles demands that others always learn from it. All the local churches in the United States can testify that Los Angeles never exercises any control over the other churches. Still, many can testify that whoever goes to have contact with the church in Los Angeles receives some help.
We all have to learn not to take an excuse and say, “We take the ground of locality. We are the church in a certain place, and we have nothing to do with others.” If we say this, we become a local sect. One local church is not the flock. It is only a part of the unique flock. All the churches are one flock with one Shepherd. For us to be organized into one with a “head church” controlling the other churches is truly devilish. Rather, we need to realize that all the local churches are one flock, one Body. All the churches have to go on by following one another.
After a period of time the church in Chicago may have something new. This would be wonderful. Through fellowship the other churches may learn of it and get the benefit. Then the church in Akron may have something better, and through fellowship the local churches can again receive the benefit. A church should not say that it has made an official decision to follow Los Angeles, nor should it say that it has made the decision not to follow Los Angeles. Both are wrong. As long as we make a decision in an organizational way, both to follow or not to follow are wrong. For a hand to say that it has made the decision to follow or not to follow the feet is foolish. There is no need to do this. As long as a hand is in the body, there is no need for it to say anything. It should simply be in the body. Oh, the subtlety of the enemy! Do not talk about following or not following. Simply be in the Body. Simply take care of the indwelling Christ. Be attuned by Him and with Him, and do not care about anything else. Then we will all be one.
PRACTICING THE ONENESS WITHOUT ANY ELEMENT OF DIVISION
There may be only ten believers living in one city, ten living in a nearby city, and ten more living in another. If all three cities are close to one another, they can all come together to meet. There is no need to be legal. Some may say that they need to take the ground of locality. The ten in one city should be the church in that city, and the ten in the other cities should be the churches in those cities. This is mere legality, and it may also be an excuse to make a division. Some may not like to be with certain others, so they may use this excuse to meet by themselves.
Do not forget that the ground of locality is for oneness. By fellowshipping together, the thirty saints who live in the three nearby cities may feel that they are too small and need to come together as one expression for the sake of the impact. This is absolutely right. Then, when they grow from thirty to two hundred, the Lord may lead them to be three separate local expressions in the three cities. That is also right, because they will still be one. Whether we all come together or we stay in three cities as separate expressions, we are still one. There is no division or element of division. We all are one flock.
Today in His recovery the Lord is going to recover the genuine oneness. It is a shame to the Lord that His people are divided into many sects. Now if some of His dear saints will come together, be liberated and be emancipated out of all kinds of divisions, this will be a real glory and boast for the Lord, from now until the end of this age.
(Enjoying the Riches of Christ for the Building Up of the Church as the Body of Christ, Chapter 13, by Witness Lee)