THE VISION OF THE LOCAL CHURCH
Today Christians have too much liberty regarding the church. This is because they do not have the vision concerning the local church. If we have the vision of the local church on the right ground, we will all be restricted.
How can we practice the church life in today’s confusion? How can we apply all the matters we have mentioned in the preceding chapters of this book? It all depends upon one thing: that is, how much we have really seen the local church on the right ground. Whenever we come to this point regarding the ground of the church, there is always a sense that we are fighting against something. I do not know why, yet in another sense I do know. Why are so many veiled when it comes to this matter? It is simply because they are so natural and religious. The natural, human, religious concept is a veil that covers us and keeps us from seeing the ground of the church.
We all need the Lord’s mercy to see the local church on the right ground. Unless we see this, there is no way for us to go on. If we are only willing to be shown the local church on the right ground, the way will be opened for the Lord’s mercy and grace to flood in. Regardless of how weak you are, if you are really willing to see this, the Lord will come in to bless. However, you cannot be indifferent. Do not say, “Well, the unique ground of the local church is good, but...” The Lord knows. You may fool others, but you cannot fool the Lord. He knows that if you say this, you are not ready for any blessing along this line.
For the local church we must be absolute and say, “Lord, I am wrecked. I am sold. I am completely spoiled. I have no other choice.” There is no need for us to do anything if we take this kind of attitude. In the whole universe the devil will know where we stand, and the Lord will too.
If we are so ready, so definite, so strong, and so absolute with the Lord’s purpose in the way of the local church, the Lord will raise up others to stand with us. But if we are neutral and lukewarm, the Lord will do nothing. He hates lukewarmness. Many miss the blessing of the Lord because they are lukewarm. They say, “Yes, the denominations are wrong, and we should not be sectarian, but still it is rather difficult to have the local church. The denominations are not the right way, but still there are problems concerning the local church.”
With spiritual things, and especially with the local church, we must be exceedingly absolute. It is just like the case of a married woman. If a woman marries Mr. Smith, she must strongly declare that she is Mrs. Smith. If she says, “Well, of course, for me to be Mrs. Jones or Mrs. Johnson is wrong, but for me to be Mrs. Smith is still a problem,” then I would ask, “What Mrs. are you? To be Mrs. Jones or Mrs. Johnson is certainly wrong, but who are you? Are you Mrs. Smith?” If we take this kind of attitude in our marriage, the entire blessing of our married life will be lost.
If the denominations are wrong and the local church is right, we must pour out every drop of our blood for it. There is the need for absoluteness. The Lord never likes any kind of mixture. In Genesis 1 everything is after its kind. A peach tree must be a peach tree. An apple tree must be an apple tree. Any kind of hybrid does not reproduce. When an apple tree is grafted into a peach tree, it exists for one generation only. This is the natural law.
If you feel that the denominations are right, then stay with them and be absolute about it. But if you feel that the Lord’s way is the local church, then you must be absolute. Only then will you see the blessing. The Lord is never pleased with any kind of mixture. If you feel burdened to go and work for a certain mission, you must do it absolutely. But if you are not certain that this is of the Lord, you will simply lose the ground for receiving the blessing.
We all need the Lord’s mercy. We need the vision, and we need to be absolute. Once we see it, we must be willing to die for it. It is only when we are so absolute that we will have the blessing. In these last days the Lord is going to prepare His bride by recovering the local church. He is so desirous of seeing many seeking ones becoming absolute to take this way. Wherever the Lord can find even a few on this earth who are so absolute for the local church, He will pour out His blessing upon them. By His mercy we must be absolute for this way. This is the basic issue. Do not ask, “What shall I do?” Instead you must ask, “Am I absolute? Am I ready to pay the price?”
In 1937 an American brother was really seeking the Lord, and due to his seeking, he was persecuted by the other missionaries of his mission. He came to me for prayer and fellowship, and he was really helped by our meetings. Because of the war, he returned to America; but after the war, he went back to Shanghai. When he heard that I was in Shanghai at that time, he came to see me again. But he never took this way. He was so close, but he never was absolute. Sometimes the closest ones are the hardest ones. I have seen those who were far from this way; yet when they saw it, they gave their lives for it. It all depends upon the vision of the local church and our absoluteness for it.
(The Practical Expression of the Church, Chapter 10, by Witness Lee)