The Spirit and the Body, by Witness Lee

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Now we need to apply this matter of the unique oneness to the situation today. Today, there is no unique oneness among Christians. If Christians do not like one another, they simply feel free to start another meeting, claiming that they are worshipping God and that God is with them. Nothing binds them together. Rather, everyone does what is right in his own eyes and makes his own choice. How many choices there are in today’s Christianity! It seems that nearly everyone has the liberty to establish a church according to his taste. Some Christians, for example, appreciate foot washing. If you do not agree with this practice, you will not be accepted by them. Thus, the ones who advocate foot washing have a foot-washing church. The same may be true regarding head covering or regarding the type of wine or juice used at the Lord’s table. Some insist upon grape juice, and others argue in favor of wine. Still others have different opinions about the bread or about the size of the cup. For this reason, there is a multitude of so-called churches according to various tastes.

Today in Christendom there is too much freedom. If a person does not agree with others, he takes the liberty to establish a church according to his taste. It seems that any kind of preaching or teaching can gain at least a small following, even if a man’s following includes only the members of his family. What a pitiful situation! In the words of Moses, this is doing what is right in our own eyes. As the children of Israel were about to enter into the good land, Moses commanded them to do this no longer. Rather, they had to do what was right in the eyes of the Lord. For the Israelites, the place of worship was uniquely one. It did not depend upon man’s choice or taste; it was altogether a matter of God’s choice. Because God had made His choice, the children of Israel were one.


As we all know, the time came when the children of Israel were scattered, some to Syria, some to Egypt, and the majority to Babylon. The time of glorious oneness was over. We should not think that while they were in Syria, Egypt, and Babylon they did not worship God. Certainly they worshipped Him. However, they did not build the temple in any of those places, because they knew that the temple could be built only on the unique site, on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. If a temple had been built in Babylon exactly the same as the temple in Jerusalem, it still would have been wrong, for it would have been built on the wrong site. The Jews did not dare to do such a thing. Even today, they are waiting for the recovery of the proper site, which is presently occupied by a Moslem mosque.

After the Israelites had been in captivity seventy years, the Lord commanded them to return to the good land. While they were in Babylon, they were, of course, still the children of Israel and they could worship God; however, they had no temple. Because they did not have the temple, they did not have the full enjoyment. A number took heed to God’s word and returned to Jerusalem. Suppose a group of Israelites who began the journey from Babylon to Jerusalem stopped halfway. Being neither in Babylon nor in Jerusalem, they would have been yet another division. Suppose another group left Babylon and came very close to Jerusalem, settling down just outside the city. Although they would have been very close to Jerusalem, they would still have been a division. Because they were not actually in Jerusalem, they would still have been a division, no matter how close they were to Jerusalem.

Applying this to today’s situation, I would like to ask you where you are. Are you in Egypt or Syria or Babylon? Have you stopped halfway back to Jerusalem or just outside Jerusalem? We can boldly declare that we are in Jerusalem. Those who are in Jerusalem, those in the Lord’s recovery, are not in a division. Those who have not come all the way back to Jerusalem are a division. God’s people need to come back to Jerusalem. Today, we are no longer in division; we are the recovery. The Lord’s recovery is not a division. Thus, we have the right, the position, the boldness, and the confidence to say that we are in the recovery. Regarding the church, a fight is raging today. Those in the denominations say, "Why do you claim that you are the church and that you are the recovery?" We reply, "Yes, we are the church, and we are the recovery. What are you?" They would have to say that they are Presbyterians or Methodists, but not the church.

(The Spirit and the Body, Chapter 19, by Witness Lee)