THE GROWTH OF THE BODY OF CHRIST
Through the Members Growing into the Head, Christ, in All Things by Holding to Truth in Love
The growth of the Body of Christ is through the members growing into the Head, Christ, in all things by holding to truth in love (Eph. 4:15). We, the members of Christ, must grow into the Head. We can be a Christian, a member of Christ, and yet have many aspects in which we are not in Christ. Our gossiping, our reasoning, our murmuring, and our arguing are all outside of Christ.
It is difficult to deal with the young people concerning their talking on the telephone. If their parents ask them to do something, they may say, "I have no time. I am busy." After a short time the telephone may ring, and one of them may answer it. After a while one of the parents may inform this one that he needs to use the telephone. The young one may respond by saying that he will be on the telephone for only another five minutes. Eventually, five minutes turns into fifty minutes. Is that kind of talking on the telephone in Christ? We all need to grow into Christ, particularly in the matter of using the telephone. I am the same as you are. I like to talk to people on the telephone. But while I am speaking on the telephone, my Partner within me often says, "It is sufficient. Stop." This word stop is continually being spoken within me while I am speaking. My response to the One within me is: "Just one more minute." But my Partner continues to say, "Stop." After such a telephone call, I need ten minutes to make a confession: "Lord, forgive me. I deliberately sinned against You. You were within me stopping me, checking with me, but I would not listen. I lied to You more than ten times by saying that I would stop in just one minute, but I did not keep my word. What a sinner I am! Lord, forgive me." Such a confession could not easily be forgotten. Thereafter, if another telephone call comes, I am fearful and even trembling that I may speak too much. In this way I learned the lesson of growing, particularly in the matter of handling telephone calls.
We also need to consider the matters of gossiping, reasoning, and murmuring. Each day how much time do we spend gossiping? Some saints are very free in passing on information about others. Too much time has been wasted and too many dollars have been spent in talking vainly on the telephone. In such activities we have been outside of Christ. In this kind of situation it is impossible to have the building up of the Body of Christ. We need the building up in Christ and the building up into the Body of Christ.
Very often I do not have the freedom to speak certain things even to my wife. The One who restricts me is my Partner, Christ, who is within me. I do not have the freedom to tell my wife everything. If I tell my wife some unnecessary thing, my talk becomes gossip. This question rises up within me when I speak to my wife about another brother: "Why do you have to tell your wife about this brother? Is it for shepherding or for taking care of the saints?" If it is for shepherding, it may be all right. But quite often the matter of shepherding is used as an excuse, a covering. Our appetite may not be for shepherding or taking care of the saints; rather, our taste may be to talk about others. We may even tell our wife to keep something we have said about another brother confidential, yet we must realize that such a saying cannot be kept confidential. If we had not given the charge of confidentiality to our wife, she might have been slow to tell others. But because of our charge, what we have said will be spread to various places. Eventually, I learned the lesson: To grow into Christ, do not speak about others. In the church life, the saints’ gossiping, reasoning, and debating have wasted much time and money. Concerning the vital groups, we have charged the saints to go out to visit people two hours a week. To budget two hours every week to go out may seem to be very difficult. But if we add together all the time spent on the telephone in one week, we may discover that we have spent more than two hours on the telephone.
My burden is not to minister doctrines to the saints. My desire is to transfuse you with the very Christ whom I have experienced. When I am on the telephone, He is in me. As I am talking to the other party, He is instructing me within. Then after the telephone conversation, many times I have to kneel down to confess to Him. This is my real experience of Christ.
According to Ephesians 4:15, the members of the Body grow up into Christ in all things by holding to truth in love. In this verse the word truth refers to anything that is real. By this word alone I have learned that many telephone calls are not true. There is much vain talk on the telephone. Such talk is vanity, not truth. What is truth? God is truth, Christ is truth, the Spirit is truth, the divine life is truth, the Body of Christ is truth, the gospel is truth, and salvation is truth. By holding to these true things, we grow into Christ. If we hold to these real things, we are actually growing into the Head, Christ, in all things. Otherwise, we are not growing into Christ.
Dear saints, if this word impresses you and you take it, practice it, and live it, you will receive much blessing. It will save you time and energy. Instead of speaking vainly about others, it is better for you to shut your eyes and sit down to rest awhile in the Lord. The amount of time you spend talking vanity can be used to sit before the Lord. You do not even need to speak to the Lord; just sit with Him and rest. If you try this, you will have the real growth into the Head in all things, by holding to truth in love.
The phrase in love is very meaningful. When we speak something to others in vanity, this indicates that we do not love the Lord and we do not love the one of whom we are speaking. We do not have the right to expose others, but we still expose them. Instead of exposing others’ mistakes, we should cover them, not telling anyone about them. This is love (1 Pet. 4:8). Yet we are just the opposite. We like to tell people about others, exposing them to others. To inform is not to love. To love is to cover others’ shortcomings and weaknesses. To talk in vanity to everyone indicates that we do not love the church. The church has been damaged very much by this kind of exposing. If everyone in a church refrains from exposing others and is full of prayers, singing, and praises to the Lord, that church is beautiful.
(The Organic Union in God's Relationship with Man, Chapter 5, by Witness Lee)