THE WAY FOR OUR WORK TODAY
Realizing the Limitation of an Individual,
and Being Delivered from Individualism
God has His specific demands; He wants man to learn coordination. God not only requires that man be delivered from sin, the world, and the flesh; He also asks that man be delivered from his individualism. With regard to the knowledge of the Body of Christ, man’s problem lies in the fact that since the first day he has been taught the wrong things. Since the Reformation, man came to think that he can be a Christian individually, that he can be sanctified individually, justified individually, and work and serve God individually. Right from the very beginning, this realization has been wrong, and the way a person takes subsequent to this is also wrong. Man thinks that as soon as he believes in the Lord, all he has to do is to be zealous, to consecrate himself, and to give up everything. However, a man must realize that he is not only a man of unclean lips, but he also dwells in the midst of a people of unclean lips (Isa. 6:5). While it is wrong to have unclean lips individually, it is equally wrong to dwell in the midst of a people with unclean lips.
If we lay a good foundation today, within twenty or thirty years the situation will change drastically. We must see that a person cannot be a proper Christian individually; he must follow the footsteps of the flock, and he must never hold on to any form of individualism. After a person is saved, he must immediately be brought to see that he belongs to the Body. To be joined to the Body is the meaning of the laying on of hands. When a new believer is joined to the Body through the laying on of hands, he can no longer be an individual Christian.
We must be brought to a point where we acknowledge the limitation of the individual. This word is easy for the young ones, but it is difficult for the ones with considerable gifts. However, we must see that even members as great as the hands and the feet are but hands and feet only; they must accept the other members before they can become complete. We must recognize our own limitations. Problems arise in the church because some people think that they are all-inclusive; they want to do everything by themselves. However, the hand can only be the hand; it cannot see, and it cannot hear. It has to accept the seeing and the hearing of others before it can enjoy the riches. It does not matter how great a gift I am; in many areas I nevertheless have to accept others’ supply. Some can only be the cells. Surely they need others. The question is whether or not they would ask others to help them. The basic need is that they have to acknowledge their own limitations. They have to acknowledge that they cannot see, speak, or hear.
We have to clearly identify our own limitations. We may not know something, but there are others in the church who will know. The fact that I do not know something does not mean that everyone else does not know about it. I have to live by others. I may not be able to walk, but others can walk. Never think that we can preach only the Head without preaching the Body. The more you depend on the Lord, the more you will realize that you have to depend on the members. If we do not accept our own limitations, we will never find the way that others have opened up already. As long as the question of limitation is not resolved, we can never advance. What we have individually is only very little. Do not think that you are so capable or clever, and do not think that you will never be wrong and that others are always wrong. We all have to humble ourselves and be delivered from our pride and our individualism to receive the supply from others. All those who are accustomed to their cleverness and who think highly of themselves should make a turn and have a change. This is the first point.
Submitting to the Authority of the Ministry
Second, not only do we have to acknowledge our own limitations; we have to know submission. In the Body of Christ, ministry means authority. Whoever can hear and speak is the authority. If a member can see, he is the authority. His being able to see is his authority. If a member can hear, his being able to hear is the authority. If you want to hear something, you have to submit to him. Either you walk blindly, or you have to submit to the eyes for your seeing. There is no one in the church who does not have to submit to anyone; everyone has to submit to those assigned by God. The problem today is that many brothers and sisters think that the supply others have received will not work in them. They think that they have to receive something directly from God. Man thinks that he can do without man’s preaching, but God’s commandments come through His ministers. For this reason, we must learn to submit.
(Messages Given During the Resumption of Watchman Nee's Ministry (2 volume set), Chapter 41, by Watchman Nee/Witness Lee)