THERE BEING NO BODY OF CHRIST WHEN WE LIVE BY THE FLESH OR THE NATURAL MAN
If you have this light and use it to carefully examine today’s Christianity, you will say that the Body of Christ is nowhere to be found. The reason is the condition of today’s Christianity. When I was young, I studied at an English-speaking college in Chefoo that was managed by the American Presbyterian Mission Board. I knew the situation with that mission board and the Presbyterian Church. The American Presbyterian Church sent some American missionaries, who also taught at my school. When these Western missionaries and the Chinese pastors of the Presbyterian Church held a meeting, they were clearly divided into two groups of people. The two sides frequently argued with each other, sometimes even throwing brush pens or Bibles at each other. Is this the Body? No, this is not the Body but the flesh. This is why I say that apparently it is the church, but in reality it is not. That was definitely not the church.
Do not forget, however, that while the situation among us is obviously stronger and better—when we come together, we do not have outward quarreling, nor do we throw pens at one another—we still have to go one step further to ask ourselves whether our meeting together is according to Christ in our spirit or according to something else. If instead of being according to Christ in our spirit, we are according to our meekness, our speech, our maneuvering, our diplomacy, or our clever answers, then in principle this is still the flesh. This is merely a slightly more civilized flesh, a more refined flesh.
In 1958 I went to a certain place in England and stayed there for one month. While I was there, they did not arrange for me to speak only at conferences; they also wanted me to speak in the Lord’s Day meetings and other regular meetings. Two days before I was to leave, it was to be my final weekly evening meeting there, and I did not even consider that I would need to speak. When I walked into the meeting hall, however, their responsible brother came forward and said, “Brother Lee, we would still ask you to speak tonight.” I said, “I have not even thought about doing this.” He insisted that I speak, so I agreed. I had had no intention of speaking, nor was I prepared, but as I was going up to the platform, the burden came. I released a strong message, saying, “The ministry is for the local churches; the local churches are not for the ministry. Regardless of how experienced, how high, how rich, how spiritual, or how heavenly the ministry is— perhaps like the ministry of the apostle John, and regardless of how poor or how unbecoming the local churches are— maybe like five of the seven churches in Revelation chapters two and three, the ministry is still for the churches, and the churches are not for the ministry.” The word I spoke that day hit the mark concerning their condition. They were altogether for having the meetings for the ministry instead of having the ministry for the meetings.
My point is that when I was staying there, not one of them was wild; instead, they were all very civil and refined. Yet each of them would make an appointment to come talk with me in the room where I was staying and use that time to criticize others in a very refined way. They were not barbaric; rather, they were all very proper. That was the refined flesh, not the Body. Do we want that kind of refinement among us? We do not. That is being diplomatically refined. It is like a situation in which behind the scenes the airplanes and cannons are all ready for war while the diplomats are still here shaking hands with one another. I am describing these things to show you that today’s Christians do not have the Body.
What is the Body? The Body is not merely a composition of a group of the called-out ones; the Body is the fullness of Christ. The Body is not only the expression of Christ but also the fullness of Christ. How does this fullness come into being? It is by your receiving the riches of Christ into you to be enjoyed and assimilated by you and even to become you. We may compare this to eating fish, chicken, and bread. After about five or six hours, they are digested into you to become you. It is at this time that you are the fullness.
At this time I have been in Taipei for more than ten days. Let us suppose that for the past seven days I did not eat any food or drink any water but instead I only laid in my bed at home. In this case you would have to carry me to the meeting, and as I stand all thin and pale, my whole body would be shaking. What would that be? That would not be the fullness. However, for these past ten days I have eaten the riches of Taiwan, including fish, chicken, and many other things; I have eaten a great amount of the riches of Taiwan, and these riches have been assimilated into me and have become me. Now, therefore, I can stand here full of life and energy. This is the fullness. The church is the fullness of Christ. This is what the Lord wants today.
(One Body, One Spirit, and One New Man, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)