THE PRACTICAL SITUATION OF THE CHURCH
The actual situation of the church, however, is not this way. It is full of divisions. All God’s children seemingly have some knowledge of God, of God’s grace, and of God’s mercy, yet most do not have any knowledge concerning the church. If they really knew the church, they would not dare to be divided. Much confusion is caused because men are too bold, do not have adequate light, and live in darkness. If their eyes were enlightened by God, they would not be so careless. However, today God’s children are seriously divided. They are not only divided, but they also have much mixture in their divisions. Therefore, the matter of the church is really a problem among Christians today.
A PURE HEART BEING REQUIRED FOR US TO SERVE GOD
Once we rise up to serve God, God will require something of us. The Bible shows us that if God’s children rise up to serve God while the church is in a desolate and divided situation, God’s first requirement is that they should be pure in heart. Second Timothy 2:17-22 says, “And their word will spread like gangrene…who concerning the truth have misaimed, saying that the resurrection has already taken place….But flee youthful lusts, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” The first half of this passage tells us that the church at that time was in such a state of confusion that some people even said that the resurrection had already taken place. Hence, Paul charged Timothy to be delivered and set apart from this confusion in order to be a vessel unto honor. He also asked Timothy to pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace with those who called on the Lord out of a pure heart. In the midst of an age of confusion, if a person wants to serve God, he has to be pure in heart. What does it mean to be pure in heart? Matthew 5:8 says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” If we put these few verses together, we will see that to be pure in heart means to desire nothing other than God Himself. Only the pure in heart can take the way of the church.
The intrinsic cause of today’s sects and denominations is the inward impurity of man. To be impure does not mean that a person has some inward sins; rather, it means that he is seeking after something other than God. This means that this person’s heart is not pure enough. For example, someone may say, “We can meet anywhere. Why do you say that we have to meet here?” The fact that a person says such a thing proves that his heart is not pure, because such a one has a desire and preference other than God. If he desires God alone, he will say, “O God, I come to meet in this place because of the pure ground, not because of any person. The fact that I come here has nothing to do with any person. I take this way because I simply want You. I only want You.” This is to be pure in heart.
Suppose there is a person who puts the proper ground of God aside. He chooses to meet in a certain place only if the responsible brothers there act humbly toward him. Where do you think this person’s heart is? If a person simply wants God, he will not care what kind of treatment he receives. We come to the meetings not for other things but only to touch God. Some people have said that they come to the meetings because our preaching is good. May I ask then, “If we did not have good preaching, would you still come?” Once a woman is married, her husband becomes her ground, and she must stay in her husband’s home. If she leaves her husband’s home and switches to another home because she does not eat well in her husband’s home, she will be an adulteress. I hope that we all would see that in the midst of the desolation and confusion of the church today, only a group of people who are pure in heart will be able to find the way of the church and the ground of the church.
There are few among God’s children today who know the ground of the church. Some people are very happy when the responsible brothers frequently greet them. When this happens, they immediately feel that this church is good and decide that they will come more often. But if the responsible brothers do not greet them one day, they will not come to the meetings anymore and will even go and meet in another place. It is all right for a housemaid to work in different homes, but it is not all right for a wife to be a wife in different homes. Mrs. Liu cannot say that because her husband is not nice to her, she has to go to the Chang family. We all have to be absolute, and we all must be able to tell God, “O God, today I take this way not for any other reason but because I am clear about this way.” When a wife is married to someone, her husband’s home becomes her stand. Whether he is poor or rich, proud or humble, she remains in his home. She cannot change her stand just because something about him changes.
(The Path of Our Growth in Life, Chapter 9, by Witness Lee)