…on the third page of “Spiritual Authority”, Watchman Nee said, “…it is possible in our work to stand with Christ in doctrine while standing with Satan in principle.”
What he means is that it is possible to have a Godly end in mind and use Satan’s methods of achieving it. in our society some say, ‘the end justifies the means’.
I am going to further explain the implications of Nee’s statement. At this point I have not finished reading the book. However, from what I have read, I believe that this statement summarizes what he has written throughout the book. As with many of Nee’s books, this one discusses the Christian life. So, in addition to being applicable to Christian leadership, it is applicable to what happened here a couple weeks ago. I will address what happened here and then return to the subject of leadership.
In John’s second comment, the message he communicated was, ‘the end justifies the means’. His response to my further explanation of our situation (and no doubt the situation for many others) was to wrongly accuse me. Following Christ’s example, I did not respond to his accusations.
The first principle that Nee’s statement gives us is that whether or not we have a true understanding of the doctrine of Christ, if we follow Satan in methods and strategy, the doctrine will be corrupted in it’s manifestation in our thoughts, words and actions. It follows then that doctrine is of no value to us as long as we use Satan’s methods in its execution. And that is why I responded to John in the way I did.
The second principle is that the success of the Christian life depends on standing with Christ in principle. What that means is that whether or not we fully understand any or all doctrinal issues we should strive to use his methods in the way we do things. Consider how He approached the men who were to become His disciples. He did not give them a bunch of rules to follow. He did not insist that they commit to a statement of faith. He did not give them a dress code. He did not expound on an exhortation of doctrine. What He said to them was, Ã¢â‚¬Å“follow meÃ¢â‚¬Â.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Follow meÃ¢â‚¬Â is what the Christian life is about. It is not about a bunch of rules, dress codes, church services, tithing, statements of faith or exhortations of doctrine. Those things may enter into the Christian life, but if they supersede Ã¢â‚¬Å“follow meÃ¢â‚¬Â then the Christian has left his or her first love. To illustrate how this applies to the comments in the entry here, I’ll use the following story
A man in a crowd said to Him, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Jesus replied, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Man, who made Me a judge or an arbitrator over you?Ã¢â‚¬Â
This began a discourse which ended with, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Whenever you see a cloud rising out of the west, immediately you say, Ã¢â‚¬ËœA shower is comingÃ¢â‚¬â„¢; and so it is… You can discern the face of the sky and of the earth, but how is it you do not discern this time? Yes, and why, even of yourselves, do you not judge what is right?
First, this is an example of Christ’s ongoing refusal to provide his followers with rules to follow. The pharisees had a bunch of rules to follow. If we are going to follow him then we will not give his disciples rules to follow. Second, He wants His disciples to discern the present time and after doing that judge what is right in that present time themselves. Elsewhere in the New Testament it says, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.Ã¢â‚¬Â If I give you a bunch of rules to follow or make all sorts of judgments as to what is right for you, I am preventing you from working out your own salvation.
The last thing I’d like to say about rules is that beliefs become religion when the beliefs produce rules. James wrote the following about religion, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.Ã¢â‚¬Â Any rules that we make which we believe extends outside of our own life and extends outside of the religion this describes is not Christianity.
My final statement on the subject of the post 2 weeks ago is that in defending a woman choosing something other than keeping a house, I was following Christ’s example. He defended Martha’s choice to pursue a ‘good part’. Thereby He signified that there could be situations where a there is better choice. This leads us right back to the discerning the present time and judging what is right. And that was what we recommended both in the post and in the comments.
Now to the subject of Christian leadership. Christ’s leadership strategy centered around training 12 men. The method that He used was to set an example for them. It was implicitly necessary because he bade them to follow him. In the course of training those 12 men, he attracted a large following. There is no doubt among Christians, many of the things He did caused excitement. But those things were a byproduct of His training of that small group of men. So, today, we should not measure Christian leadership by how many people are attracted to the show or the events that we are holding. They should be measured by the example they are setting.
It is of no less significance that every Christian is a leader in the example they set. It is through this reality that both a pure and undefiled religion and working out your own salvation become such important matters.