THE SERVICE OF GOD BEING A MATTER FOR ALL BELIEVERS
In the Lord’s recovery there are no pastors; instead, we are all brothers (Matt. 23:8-11). The believers address each other as brothers and sisters. If a brother among us is serving God, then we should all be serving God. Sometimes in the matter of visitation a brother would say, “It is best for So-and-so to visit that person because then that person will definitely be saved.” On the one hand, the brother who says this shows that he cares for the souls of people, and we should be joyful about this. On the other hand, why does he not go to visit and preach the gospel to that one? When he goes, he may not be able to preach the word clearly, but he should go again and again. And after many visits, he could even ask someone to go with him. In short, there is no class among us. We all can and should participate in every aspect of the service of God. A person who is saved has God’s life in him and can fellowship with God. Therefore, he should serve God. All of us, not just a few, should participate in the service of God.
What is degraded Christianity? In degraded Christianity everyone cares only for his own affairs while turning over the service of God to a few pastors or clergymen. Just as people ask lawyers to handle their lawsuits and ask doctors to cure their sicknesses, so Christians ask pastors to serve God on their behalf. This is absolutely wrong. In the initial church there was not such a practice. Neither Peter nor Paul practiced this. Peter would have said, “I am your brother,” and so would Paul. What is the degradation of the church? If there are eighteen hundred saints in the church but only two to three hundred are serving God, that is the degradation of the church. Then, what is the normal condition of the church? The normal condition of the church is that if there are eighteen hundred saints, all of them are serving God. They all participate in the services of preaching the gospel, praying, and praising. They are all brothers serving together before God.
Some of the saints have asked me to preside over their wedding meeting which was to be held in the meeting hall. I told them that the initial church did not have such a practice and that perhaps they could have their wedding meeting in the house of a brother or sister who has a large living room. Although I have been serving God for such a long time and have come to know thousands of believers, I have never yet officiated at anyone’s wedding. This kind of intermediary service is a degraded situation and should be removed from our midst. This is why during our meetings, many times I like to sit at the back. Sometimes, at the Lord’s table, even though some of the prayers are very weak, I would not utter a word. I simply keep a position—that we do not have a pastor or someone presiding over the meeting among us. When I am on the podium and God gives me a word to release, I dare not shrink back, because that is my ministry. However, the Lord’s table is for all the saints to worship God, so everyone must function.
When someone is sick in our family, especially if he is very ill, we usually ask the saints who are considered to be more spiritual to pray for the sick one. This type of action generally has two implications. First, it implies that we believe that we ourselves are incapable of praying this kind of prayer for healing. Second, it implies that due to our superstition we think that this kind of prayer will be more effective if it is offered by those who are more spiritual. We must all be clear that in the church there is no one who rules and there is no one who specializes in prayer. Every one of us can pray and should pray. The degradation of Christianity resulted in the so-called clergy. The Catholic Church has become so great that she has a pope who has become the king of kings so that his commands cannot be altered. Although the pope cannot rule the whole earth, he does rule over the Catholic Church throughout the whole world. The Lord Jesus said that we must not be like the Gentiles who have rulers and also that whoever wants to be great among us should do the most menial things (Matt. 20:25-27). In the cleaning service in some of the meeting halls, when the responsible brothers clean the bathrooms, it is an encouragement to the saints because it shows that we are all brothers before God and thus there should be no hierarchy among us. If we bring hierarchy into the church, the church will become a society. We can hire servants in our homes; in the church, however, there are no hired servants. We have bosses over us in a society, but not in the church. The normal church, which is very simple, has only brothers and sisters; there is nobody else.
Often people ask, “How do I join the church? What is the procedure for joining the church?” When a person prays and receives the Lord, that is the procedure and he is therefore already in the church. Please remember, whenever the church talks about procedures or regulations, then that church has already become degraded. The church is very simple, having only one God, one Lord, one Holy Spirit, and one Bible. This is the simplicity of the church—having no cathedrals, having no intermediary class, and giving no undue attention to wealth. Some people may ask, “Since the Lord has blessed you so much, why do you not build a grand cathedral with a steeple higher than all other cathedrals?” Peter said that he did not possess silver and gold (Acts 3:6). Paul said that he was naked and without a home (1 Cor. 4:11). The church does not have great wealth, and when the church has a little excess, it is distributed to the poor and the needy.
I already had a small family when I gave up my job to serve the Lord, and I can also testify that what the Lord gave me in one year far exceeded what I had before. Nevertheless, nothing we receive should be kept for our own enjoyment. We have many brothers and sisters who still do not have a place to live; they are still lacking in many things. Some of them ought to be resting in bed, yet for their livelihood they have to continue working. Moreover, there is a great deal of gospel work that requires expenses. Thus, we should not be rich before the Lord but live a simple church life, a life that is “as poor yet enriching many” (2 Cor. 6:10), just as Paul did.
(The Pursuit of a Christian, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)