THE ONENESS OF THE BODY BEING THE SPIRIT
What we do and speak in the meetings mostly is not the reality of the Body of Christ. What we have mostly is merely some outward matters. We have the local churches, and we know how to set up churches, how to appoint elders, and how to assign deacons. We also know how to have good meetings by not having one man speaking but having everyone practicing to prophesy as prophets. All these things are correct and right, but are they carried out in the Spirit and according to the Spirit? My answer is that for the most part they are not. Hence, even in the Lord’s recovery we are very lacking in the reality of the Body of Christ.
The way to live out the reality of the Body of Christ is to go through death and resurrection by the living together of God with man. Through death everything on our side was cleared up; through resurrection our human nature was uplifted and we were begotten to be the many sons of God. Although we are God’s children today, we still have a great number of negative things hanging on us. Hence, every day we must stay with the cross. We must die every day and every moment; everything must die.
Whether you are going to tell people that the local churches are not autonomous, or you are going to tell people that, on the one hand, the local churches are autonomous and, on the other hand, they are joined as one Body, you must speak in the reality of the Body of Christ, that is, in the Spirit. To be sure, it is not accurate to say that the local churches are absolutely autonomous; to be sure, it is correct to say that, on the one hand, the local churches are autonomous and, on the other hand, they are joined as the universal Body of Christ. Nevertheless, in principle, those who speak these things speak in themselves; they do not speak in the Spirit or according to the Spirit. Hence, what they speak is meaningless. If you see this light, you do not have to say anything, and yet you will spontaneously keep the oneness of the Body. How do we keep the oneness of the Body? What is this oneness? This oneness is the Spirit. Hence, Ephesians 4:4 says, “One Body and one Spirit.” This is the oneness of the Body. When you are in the Spirit, you keep this oneness; when you are not in the Spirit, even if you say you are not divided, you are divided.
A WORD OF WARNING AND CAUTION
Now I would like to speak a word of warning and caution. We need to be on the alert because we all have ambition; there is no one who is without ambition. That which is most harmful to us, most obstructive to God, most damaging to the Lord’s recovery, and most destructive to the Body of Christ is our ambition. On the one hand, everyone desires to be an elder or to be an apostle or, at the very least, to be a deacon, and if not a deacon, to be one who takes the lead. On the other hand, in our working for the Lord we aspire to have the top preaching, to preach better than others; we also aspire to have a more powerful work than others, to bring more people to salvation than others, to have the church under our leadership excel over other churches. All the seeds of division are found in ambition. When ambition is gone, all divisions are gone.
In my working together with Brother Nee, the first thing I noticed in him is that he was a person without ambition. He knew only to work; he had no ambition. Hence, I was very much influenced by him. In my sixty years in the Lord’s recovery I have had no ambition. You can trace my history: whether in Chefoo, in Shanghai, or in Taiwan, I had no ambition. I knew only to toil and labor. After I finished the work, when the Lord led me to leave, I just left.
Let us look back on the history of the Lord’s recovery among us. All those who were ambitious and therefore dissenting, rebellious, and divisive, whether in mainland China or in Taiwan—where are they today? In those days the dissenting ones in Taiwan said that they had seen the vision and that the leading co-workers had become old and were ready to be put in a coffin. But today I would like to ask, What happened to their vision? I warned them, saying, “Once you leave this ground, you will divide again and again; you will divide endlessly.” My word has been fulfilled. Among the four or five of them, no two are together; some have returned to the world to get a job, and the whereabouts of the others are unknown. While I am writing the outlines of 1 and 2 Kings, I see God’s judgment on everyone, and His judgment is severe. As to the four leading rebellious ones in recent times, what are they doing today? They have no message to give and no work to do. All they do is go to different places to attack me and spread rumors, creating divisions everywhere.
I would like us to see these histories and learn lessons from the failures of those who preceded us. Beginning with Brother Nee, everyone who has been faithful and sincere to stay in the Lord’s recovery has been blessed. Even if they have not had much gift, they have brought in the Lord’s blessing. These are things that I want to bring out as a warning.
Now concerning being cautious, we must never allow our self, our natural being, our old “I,” and our disposition to be resurrected. In the Lord’s work we do not have ambition, comparison, competition, or envy. Furthermore, we will never look at others’ mistakes, but always consider others more excellent than ourselves. Do not boast in what you have accomplished nor be envious of what others have done nor judge others’ errors. Even if you are fully aware that what others do is wrong and that there are shortcomings, not only should you not criticize them but you should even help them. We are not sent by the Lord to measure others with a measuring stick. Rather, we are sent by Him to minister Christ to people. We must learn to be humble. If there is something that others have and we do not have, we should receive it with a humble heart. Everyone has shortcomings, but we are not sent by the Lord to expose others’ shortcomings. We are sent by Him to minister life and to minister Christ to others.
Finally, in doing the Lord’s work we only labor. We should not attempt to show off and boast concerning our work. We should not be reluctant to give up our work, nor take credit for our success. When we leave, we simply leave and turn over everything to others. We conduct ourselves in this way—without ambition, without self-boasting, without making comparisons, and without blaming others for their mistakes—because we have seen the Body. Consequently, what we are doing today is not our personal work but the economy of God throughout the generations, that is, the building up of the Body of Christ. The Lord can cause us to live out the life of a God-man by our being joined with others. Hence, the third stanza of our new hymn says, “No longer I alone that live,/But God together lives with me./Built with the saints in the Triune God,/His universal house we’ll be,/And His organic Body we/For His expression corp’rately.” This is the reality of the Body of Christ.
If we have seen this, we will not pay attention to the outward practices. Whatever you do is of the old creation unless it goes through death and resurrection. If you do it right, it is of the old creation; if you do it wrong, it is also of the old creation. Both are of no value. In our service to God, first, we must see that God is not mocked. Second, we must see that in the universe God has not only the laws on the physical side but also the laws on the spiritual side; moreover, the spiritual laws are stricter than the physical laws. Hence, once we touch the spiritual work of God, we must be restricted by His laws. If we deviate just a little from His laws, we are finished. This is like running on a racecourse. When you run, you must stay within two lines; once you step on the white line, you are out-of-bounds; and even if you regret it, there is no remedy. This is true. In the past I said these things to the dissenting ones, warning them that they should by no means create any division or be rebellious. To this day, I have rarely seen a rebellious one repent.
Whatever you do, whether you preach the gospel or go to the villages or come to the United States or carry out a training, never consider that you are doing something more excellent than others. Furthermore, do not compare yourself with others so that you are discouraged because you sense that you are not doing as well as others. We should have none of these things. We only know that we should labor, that we should die daily and be resurrected daily, and that we should daily walk in the Spirit, that is, according to the Spirit. As to the rest, I can testify here that it is the Lord’s responsibility.
(The High Peak of the Vision and the Reality of the Body of Christ, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)