THE ORGANIC BODY OF CHRIST NEEDING THE GROWTH
The church is the Body of Christ. As the human body needs to grow, in the same way the Body of Christ needs to grow. In Ephesians 4, the word “growth,’’ “grown,” or “to grow’’ is used at least three times. First, Paul says, “Until we all arrive…at a full-grown man’’ (4:13). When a man is first born, his stature is very small. Day by day, he needs to grow, until he becomes a full-grown man. Since the church is the Body of Christ, it needs to grow day by day also. Following this, Paul says, “We may grow up into Him in all things, who is the Head, Christ’’ (4:15). After a Christian is saved, he is a person in Christ. But there are still many things not of Christ in him. For this reason, he has to give the Lord the ground in all things so that the Lord may grow in him.
Finally, we have “the growth of the Body’’ (4:16). The church is the Body of Christ. This body grows; it does not expand. Often we say that the church has expanded. Actually, this term is not that scriptural. The church does not expand; it should only grow. Something that has no life can be said to expand, but something with life should grow. When we speak of a nation, we can say that it expands. This is because a nation is an organization; it is not an organism. But when we speak of the church, we should speak of growth, because the church is the Body of Christ. It is organic, and not organizational.
Because the church needs the growth, and because we all have to arrive at a full-grown man, being full of the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, we need to know how the Body of Christ grows.
Growing by the Growth of God in the Believers
The growth of the Body of Christ is by the growth of God in us. Today God is in us. If we love God, pursue after Him, and live by Him, we will afford God the opportunity to grow in us. When God grows in every believer, this growth issues in the growth of the church. Hence, the growth of the church is absolutely not due to the growth of the human, natural life. The growth of the church is absolutely due to the growth of God in every one of us. When the God within us increases, the church as a Body grows. This is why we must pursue after God and allow Him to have the ground in us. When we give God the ground step by step, we will be filled with God, and God will grow in us.
Causing All the Saints to Grow into the Head, Christ, in All Things, Being Full of the Element of Christ
When God grows in us, we will grow into the Head, Christ, in all things. Although we are saved and are in Christ, we may still do many things apart from Christ.
When I first went to America in 1962, the hippies were very popular. I lived in California, which was the place where the hippies originated. In Los Angeles, there were groups of hippies who came to listen to the gospel. Some were saved. I still remember one time that a hippie with long hair came in while I was preaching. His hair covered his shoulders, and he wore a colorful headband. When he came in, he sat on the front row. Following that, another tall hippie came in. He wore a shabby pair of slippers and had no socks on. He also sat on the first row. While he listened to my speaking, he stretched out his legs and wiggled his toes.
When these two people sat down, I found it hard to continue with my speaking. Nevertheless, both of them got saved. After a day or two, when the one with the headband came to the meeting, we noticed that the headband was gone. This was a good sign. In this matter of the headband, he had grown into the Head, Christ. A few days later, when he came to the meeting, his long hair had been cut. I was rejoicing, because in the matter of hair cutting he had grown into Christ. After a few more days, when he came to the meeting again, I could not recognize him any longer. Not only had he cut his beard, but he had shaved his face clean. In the matter of beard shaving, he had also grown into Christ. A little later, he came with short hair; his hair was a few inches from his collar. The other barefoot hippie began to put on his socks after a few days, but he still wore his slippers. After a few more days, he began to put on proper shoes also. By that time, the two began to look like proper people.
These two living testimonies show us that we have to grow in all things. Even in the matter of cutting our hair and shaving our beard, we have to grow. The more a person pursues after the Lord, the more the Lord will occupy ground in him, and the more he will grow in the Lord. Strictly speaking, it is not we who are growing; it is He who is growing within us. The more He grows within us, the more we grow into Christ.
Let me take another example. The sisters have a problem in combing their hair. They often find it hard to take five minutes for morning watch and prayer. But when they stand before the mirror, they can spend twenty minutes combing their hair. This kind of combing is not in Christ. In the matter of combing our hair, we need to grow. Some others like to make long-distance telephone calls. Once they are on the phone, their ears are glued to the phone, and they would not put it down for a long time. Such telephone calls are not carried out in Christ. This is why Ephesians 4:15 says that we have to grow up in all things into the Head, Christ.
This is easy to say, but it is not entirely easy to grow. When I look at my grandchildren, they look the same as they did five days ago. Even after a year, they do not seem to have grown much. Our growth in Christ is often very slow. But nevertheless, we all have to grow in all things into Christ the Head. Do not think that your combing of your hair is not a big issue. If you comb your hair this way, it proves that you love your beauty more than you love the Lord, and that you love the world more than you love the Lord. This will hinder your growth. If you would forget about the way you comb your hair, but would be satisfied with a hairdo that is merely proper and neat, this proves that you have yielded yourself to Christ. Hence, we have to grow in all things, big or small, into Christ the Head.
(The Riches and Fullness of Christ and the Advanced Recovery of the Lord Today, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)