THOSE WHO CONSTITUTE THE CHURCH
We may apply the principle contained in this illustration to the situation concerning the church today. When we take the standing that we are the church in Anaheim, other Christians may protest. They may ask, "How can you say that you are the church in Anaheim and that we are not?" If someone raises this question, find out where he is. Check to see if he is in a denomination or some other divisive group of Christians. If he is in a division, then in a practical sense he is not part of the church in his locality. Many of today’s Christians are like Jews who have not returned to the land of Israel. Only those Jews who have returned to the original ground of oneness, to the land of their fathers, are part of the nation of Israel. In the same principle, to be part of the local church one must not only be a Christian, but must also be a Christian on the ground of oneness. Only those believers who have forsaken every divisive ground and have come back to the ground of oneness constitute the church. No matter how few they may be in number, those who have returned to the ground of oneness are the church in their locality.
If we who meet on the ground of oneness in Anaheim are not the church in Anaheim, what are we? I ask those who dispute our testimony concerning the church to give us a name. The fact is, we do not have a name. We simply meet together as the church in our locality.
When speaking of the ground of oneness, learn to use the illustration of the return of the children of Israel from captivity. Also point to the situation of the nation of Israel today. Many of the Jews in New York City may be better Jews than those in Palestine. Nevertheless, because those in Palestine are on the proper ground, they are the nation of Israel. In like manner, the Christians who have returned to the ground of oneness are the church, not necessarily because they are more spiritual than others, but because they have come back to the proper ground, to the ground of oneness.
PAYING THE PRICE
TO STAND ON THE GROUND OF ONENESS
Do you know why many of God’s people remained in Babylon instead of making the long journey back to Jerusalem? The reason was they were settled comfortably in Babylon and did not want to pay the price to return to the good land. The same holds true of many Jews in the United States today. They may be very devoted to the nation of Israel, but they find it inconvenient to move there to be part of that nation. Having a settled place in American society, they may prefer to be American Jews. This indicates that they are not willing to pay the price to stand on the unique ground. Sorry to say, the same thing is true of many Christians. A number of them have seen something of the truth of oneness. But the problem is they are not willing to pay the price. Returning to the ground of oneness would cause many to lose their position, name, reputation, or popularity. By the Lord’s mercy, we have chosen to take the narrow way of the cross and to stand on the ground of oneness. We have no choice except to take the Lord’s choice, even though we may be defamed, despised, and criticized. We must pay the price to stand on the ground of local oneness no matter what evil things others may say about us.
Praise the Lord for all the spiritual and heavenly things that have become our experience on this ground! Here in the local, unique oneness we have the Lord’s presence, the altar, the house, and the feasts. Nothing can compare with the enjoyment of the spiritual riches on the proper ground. How happy I am to be with you all in the local oneness! Unless the Lord leads us to make a genuine migration to another locality, we should simply remain in our local church, not moving to suit our taste or preference. Let us simply stay in the church where the Lord has placed us. We praise the Lord for the vision concerning the destruction of the high places and the recovery of the local oneness. Hallelujah for the revelation of the local oneness and its recovery! It is our privilege to have a share in this recovery today.
(The Genuine Ground of Oneness, Chapter 10, by Witness Lee)