THE MEANING OF BEING ONE WITH THE CHURCH
One brother asked: Brother Nee said a while ago that an individual brother can be one with the church, and that once there is oneness, there is authority. What kind of oneness does that refer to?
The Church Not Being
a Matter of Number
Brother Nee answered: This oneness is an identification. Strictly speaking, not only can one individual not call himself the church; even if all sixteen hundred saints in Shanghai are put together, it is equally presumptuous for them to call themselves the church. In Revelation 7, it mentions that those who are clothed in white and who stand before the throne are countless in number. The largest number in the whole book of Revelation is two hundred million. This means that this countless number is larger than two hundred million. The population of China is only five hundred million, or more precisely, four hundred fifty million. If among all the Chinese, three thousand of them would set up a flag and declare that they are China, is that not a joke? Hence, whether or not one is a church is not a question of number.
There Being Oneness with the Church Only by Being Dealt With and by Being in the Holy Spirit
If I am one who has been disciplined by the Holy Spirit and one who has learned the lesson of fellowship, and if I am one who rejects not only the self, but all individualism, and if I am one who has been dealt with in all these areas, then I will surely be one with the church. No matter how large a number you have, when this number is compared with the whole, it is worth nothing. The question is whether or not you are the same as all the other children of God. If you are, you can say that you are the church. If not, even if you have sixteen hundred people, you cannot say that you are the church. When a man is in the Holy Spirit, he can be one with the church. When a man is not in the Holy Spirit, there is no oneness of the church. If there is no oneness of the church, even if the number is ten times sixteen hundred, there is still no church.
Being Dealt With to Have the Body Consciousness,
and Being Identified with the Body
God wants our self to be broken. Individualism must go, and we cannot act according to our own will; our outward shell must be broken. The Body is a matter of consciousness. God has to bring a man to the point where he realizes that he is the church. This is what we mean by the Body consciousness. One has to be brought to the point where he feels that he is the Body. When one member of your body moves, the whole body moves as well. This is something very real. The Lord said to Paul, "It is hard for you to kick against the goads" (Acts 26:14). Perhaps Paul only remembered that he persecuted Stephen. He did not realize that while he was persecuting Stephen, he was persecuting the Lord. Later he understood that in persecuting Stephen, he was persecuting the Lord. This is why Paul said later that when one member suffers, the whole Body suffers also (1 Cor. 12:26). When the whole Body is rejoicing, will not each member rejoice? When the whole Body is suffering, will not each member suffer also? Today, we have to stand on the ground of a receiving one, and we should receive the other members of the Body. Pride goes before destruction (Prov. 16:18). Those who sit on the high chair of a judge can surely not be the runners of the race. Only those who receive, who are humble, and who step down from their throne can identify themselves with others and with the church. Otherwise, any oneness is but an outward performance.
When a man is one with the church, if others are in the flow, he will surely be in the flow. When others receive a certain guidance, he will receive the same guidance. All the brothers and sisters will receive the same grace and will take the same way. If everyone is hot, and you are the only one that is cold, it proves that you are not in the Body. If everyone is going in one direction, I have to follow them. If everyone is burdened for Manchuria, spontaneously I will have the same burden. If everyone is afraid of touching a certain matter, I will not dare to touch the same matter. This is the church. The church is something that issues from within. It is not something that is arrived at by outward consensus. Hence, every child of God is the church. If we follow the footsteps of the flock in this way, God will lead us on. We cannot withdraw ourselves simply because of our unwillingness to submit in certain matters, and we cannot fall behind or draw back. Today among God’s children, the most precious thing is this sense of identification. If all God’s children see something one way and I feel another way, I should resolve not to fall behind the others, and I should be ready to identify myself with others.
(Messages Given During the Resumption of Watchman Nee's Ministry (2 volume set), Chapter 78, by Watchman Nee/Witness Lee)