The Practice of the Church Life
"Where the church is, there is Christ, and where Christ is, there is the church. You can never separate Christ from the church. Whenever we speak about the church, we must know what Christ is and how He is related to the church." (The Life and Way for the Practice of the Church Life, p. 33)
The Church Life
The church life needs practice, not just theory. Thus my attempt to expound on this matter will never be adequate. Nevertheless, I have been recently touched, convicted, and adjusted in my view concerning Christ and the church.
Usually when I see the church, I simply regard it as a body of believers, who are related by and in the divine life. In other words, I see the church as a living entity, the enlargement of Christ Himself because Christ is our life (Colossians 3:4) and our being together to express His Person is literally the extension of His days on this earth. The Lord Jesus is living again on the earth through us. Yet there is a practical side of the church that is called the church life.
The practice of the church life is the realm in which Christians live together as members of one another in the Body of Christ.
It is more than a mere community, it is the church being practiced in the members' daily living. Our personal life, our relationships with one another, our meeting life, everything is part of this church life.
Furthermore, it is not just a society where people are placed together. Actually when we speak about the church, we must know what Christ is and how He is related to the church. This is what's so striking to me.
The Great Wheel of God's Move
Recently I was reading a book for my morning devotion concerning prayer and the Lord's move. My first thought was, of course, we need to pray for the Lord to move. Yes, absolutely! However, it is more profound than just that.
In the Old Testament, Ezekiel chapter 1 is filled with pictures of the Lord's move. I do not have the full utterance to explain the great wheel, the wheel within the wheel, and the four living creatures in detail. All I can share with you is that Christ is the hub, the center, and the church is the rim, the circumference.
The wheel of God's move is initiated and motivated by Christ, as the hub, but there is the need for the church, as the rim, to match it. Otherwise, without the rim, there is no movement.
Yes, the hub is the motor, the initiator, the one giving direction, the burden-bearer, but the rim is the part that touches the earth, the executor. This directly correlates with the fact that Christ is the Head and we are the Body.
So now, the question is how can we apply this realization of what Christ is and how He is related to the church in our church life?
Christ is the Head, the Church is His Body
These quotes from the Life-Study of 1 Timothy (Message 3) have helped me:
"Instead of talking so much and even instead of working so much, we should pray more. Should you hear that a saint is weak or backsliding, do not talk about that person, and do not criticize him. Moreover, do not immediately go to visit him. Instead, pray for him. Whether or not you should visit him depends on the Lord’s leading.
After you pray about the matter, if the Lord leads you to visit that one, simply follow the Lord and visit him. But do not do anything presumptuously. If the Lord does not lead you to visit a backsliding saint, you should not visit him on your own. It is possible that even in visiting the saints we may be presumptuous. Yes, visiting a backsliding saint is a presumptuous sin if it is done in ourselves apart from prayer and the Lord’s leading. But if through our prayer the Lord definitely leads us to visit a certain one, that visitation will be effective.
We should also pray whenever we hear of problems among the saints. We should not presume that we are experienced and qualified to solve problems. Such an attitude is not only presumptuous; it is also blasphemous, for it is to consider ourselves as God. If we learn about a problem between brothers, we should bring this matter to the Lord in our prayer."
The church life is very much about relatedness between the believers in their daily living. However, as we touch one another, we shall first touch Christ, our Head. Praying to look unto Him and wait on His leading.
There are so many needs among the believers that cause us to desire to help others. Yet in our service, we are not just need-based serving ones, we must be spirit-led. Christ as the Spirit who lives in our spirit is the hub. He is the Head, the Initiator, the Leader, the Director, the Source.
I'm very much convicted because many times I have helped others without first inquiring the Lord. I repent before the Lord for replacing Him in many ways. I'm not there yet, but as I'm being continuously reminded how short I am in my prayers, waiting on the Lord, I thank Him for His precious blood. I can simply turn and repent whenever I fail.