THE PRINCIPLES WHICH GOVERN US
Science, philosophy, religion, and law are all substitutes for Christ. Are you living by Christ day by day? You have been saved. Christ is within you. Yet very little of the time do you live Him. You may touch Him occasionally when you pray, and you may live Him part of the time when you are in the meetings. Most of the time you are in the meetings, however, you are thinking about how poor the elders are, how the brothers do not measure up to the standard, and how the sisters are disappointing. You disagree with this, and you condemn that. Instead of living Christ, you sit there criticizing and judging. You are in the realm of knowledge.
We may pride ourselves on our culture. What can compare with our Chinese ethics! We will forebear even if we are stabbed in the heart. We graciously give in in every situation. In addition to this national heritage, we have been raised in a Christian family and brought up in a local church. We have a knowledge of the Bible and its teachings. Why do we act the way we do? We are governed by our knowledge or scientific understanding. Why do we refrain from certain actions? It is against our ethical philosophy, or against the code we have observed in the local church. Why do we humbly give way to others? Firstly, it is because we are Chinese; secondly, it is because we are members of a local church. There are certain things we do and do not do, in order to keep our qualifications and be proper.
Why do you not go to the movies? You may tell me none of them are any good. You are an educated person. Movies do not appeal to you. Only uneducated, country people could enjoy that kind of entertainment. Perhaps you say that after you got saved, you felt uneasy when you went to the movies, and for that reason you stopped attending. It may well be that Christ within was restricting you at the beginning. How about now? Do you stay away from the movies because of the tradition of the local church? Do you feel condemned if you violate a local church custom? Are you trying to live up to your reputation of being a good brother? Can any of you say that what you do or do not do is because of Christ living in you? that you are not living philosophy, religion, or ethics? that you are only living Christ?
Sometimes a sister would like to argue with her husband. But she considers and realizes it is better not to argue. Perhaps the children are present, and she does not want them to listen to an argument; or, there may be some young people around, and she would not want to set a poor example for them. Even if no one else is present, she may refrain from arguing because she is considered a good sister in the church. Occasionally, she may not argue because of Christ within her, but this is her least frequent reason. Most of the time, instead of living Christ, she is living her children, or the young people, or her reputation in the church. The brothers are no different.
The elders sometimes get themselves into trouble by making decisions too quickly. You have observed that going too fast leads to problems. Some more experienced ones also advise you that, as an elder, you must learn to be cautious. They tell you that if you give quick answers, you will offend people. When others come for help, it is best to tell them you cannot answer right away; you will have to pray over the matter first. Is this living Christ? It is living by wisdom, not by Christ.
(Life Messages, Vol. 2 (#42-75), Chapter 22, by Witness Lee)