TWO THINGS THAT SPOIL THE CHURCH LIFE
There are two things that spoil the church life. One is the fact that there are so many different grounds. Today people are liberal to have many different meetings. This kind of liberal attitude spoils and damages the church life. How could you say, "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell in oneness"? You cannot say this because the oneness is gone. We are in the same city, and even in the same part of the city, yet we have three or four different groups. There are too many grounds. The unique ground is spoiled, so it is hard to have the real church life.
Then the other thing that spoils the church life is that whenever the saints come together, they always desire to know and pay attention to something other than Christ. Therefore, there is no ground of oneness and no reality of Christ. Consequently, the church life is gone.
If we are going to practice the church life in a proper way, first, we have to clear the ground. Our flesh, our desire, and our taste have to be dealt with by the cross. We have to respect the ground of oneness. In other words, we have to respect the oneness of the Body. We have no right to choose a ground to set up a meeting. We can only take the ground appointed by God.
Furthermore, we cannot have an empty cup, that is, an empty ground. We must be filled with Christ and the Spirit. This depends on our daily experience. We should not expect that whenever we meet together, the Spirit will come down from the heavens and be poured upon us. This is a dream. We must be awakened out of our dreaming. The right way is that each of us has to deal with the Lord, to have fellowship with Him, to be dealt with by Him, to be filled by Him, and to be occupied by Him in our daily life. We experience Christ, we learn the lesson of the cross, and we walk in the spirit with Christ. Then when we come to the meeting, we come with something of Christ. Spontaneously, we have something to share with the saints, something to offer to God to satisfy Him, and something to minister to others.
This is to function in the meetings by ministering Christ to others. You may not be able to give a message, but you can give a short prayer or a short testimony. If you are in the spirit and you have some experience of Christ, whenever you open your mouth, Christ will be offered and manifested by and in your prayer. We all have to experience Christ in this way. Then whenever we come together, something of Christ will be brought together and will be manifested. Eventually, the building up of the Body will be realized, because only the Christ experienced by us is the real material for the building of the church.
We may attend meetings throughout the year, but unless we have the adequate experience of Christ, we still will not be able to have any kind of building. When we experience Christ in a rich way, we have much of Christ to bring to the meetings, to share with one another, to exhibit, to glorify God, and to put the enemy to shame. Then this Christ whom we experienced will be the material for the building up of the church. We believers can never be built up together in ourselves. We can be built up together only in Christ, with Christ, and by Christ.
We mentioned before that the city and the temple in Jerusalem came into existence through the offerings brought by the children of Israel. If they had had nothing to offer, there would have been no material for the building of the city and the temple. The offerings were the produce of the good land. They were the fruit of the labor of the children of Israel. This is a type.
If we are going to have a church built up practically in our area, there is the need for a group of believers who live by taking Christ as everything. They walk in the spirit and practice this kind of life day by day. Hence, they are filled with Christ and have much of Christ in their hands. Whenever they come together, everyone has something of Christ to contribute to the meeting and offer to God. Furthermore, they keep this one regulation, that is, they keep the oneness and stay away from any kind of division. They concentrate all their experiences of Christ together as material for the building of the church. Eventually, something of Christ will be built up together as a real building to be a practical, living expression of Christ. This is the way to practice the church life.
Let us pray much about this matter so that we may realize the life and the way for the practice of the church life. Let us pray that a real building of the church may be realized in our area and even in the entire United States.
(The Life and Way for the Practice of the Church Life, Chapter 16, by Witness Lee)