YOU ARE ALL BROTHERS
Do you remember the request of the mother of the sons of Zebedee? She came seeking position for her two sons. It was on that occasion that the Lord told His disciples, “The rulers of the nations lord it over them, and the great exercise authority over them. It is not so among you; but whoever wants to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you shall be your slave” (Matt. 20:25-27). The one who wants to be great must be a slave. The Lord pursued this very subject further in chapter 23, when He said, “Do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. Neither be called leaders, because One is your Leader, the Christ. And the greater among you shall be your servant” (vv. 8, 10, 11).
The so-called Plymouth Brethren in their early days called themselves “brethren” because of this verse 8. They did not consider they had any leader among them. When brother George Müller came to the Lord’s table, he would always sit at the back.
The concept that we must have a leader influences us who are in the Lord’s recovery too. If even twenty of us come together, is not our first thought, who will be the leader? But the practice in our meetings does indicate some degree of a transformed mentality. When we meet together, one will call for a hymn, some others may pray, and then there may be a testimony or requests for more hymns. This is an indication that we are not waiting for someone to lead the meeting. It is surely an improvement over our days in Christianity, when we came into a church building Sunday morning and quietly took our seat, waiting for the leader to come and conduct the service.
For years I have been concerned about the elders’ sitting in the first row. This practice was begun by me in order for the elders to have a way to confer about anything that might come up during the meeting. But I realize it may give a false impression that these are the leaders.
To behave rightly in the house of God also requires that we receive our orders directly from Christ, without any intermediary. The toenails may be the farthest from the head positionally, yet their orders go directly to them from the head, just as do those of the shoulder, which is closer to the head in position. We may refuse the Catholic blasphemy about a “holy mother” between the believers and Jesus, yet in practice we may want another saint to advise us what course to take.
Suppose a young believer goes to an elder and asks him if it is all right to go to the movies. In one way it is good that this new believer does not trust himself and would check with another saint, but from another aspect it is wrong to let someone else act as a leader or go-between to make his decision. From the very first time the young believer comes for advice, that elder should instruct him, “I may be able to help you, but I am not the Lord. You may be young, but the Lord Jesus is within you, just as He is in me. Go and check with Him. Kneel down and pray for Him to guide you.” To counsel the young one in this way means that both are respecting Christ’s lordship. How offensive it would be to His headship if that elder should say, “Brother, because I love you, I want to tell you the truth. Now that you are saved, you should not go to the movies. Christians should never go to the movies. That is a damage to the Lord’s testimony. Do you understand, brother? You must not go.” Do you realize that for the elder to speak in this fashion is for him to take the Lord’s place? We must instruct others to go again and again to the Lord until they are clear. The house of God is the church of the living God. We are living members with the living God inside us. The proper way to behave in His house is to contact Him directly and to help others to do the same.
(Life Messages, Vol. 1 (#1-41), Chapter 18, by Witness Lee)