This is the fourth message given by brother Titus Chu during a conference on the topic of Being a Brother. The contents are edited from the original speaking for reading purposes. The exact time and source of this message and conference is unknown.
In the church life it is our privilege to exercise in the matters of life, ministry, commitment, and fellowship. We are endowed with a four-fold status that corresponds to the normal exercise in the church life: in life we are brothers, in ministry we are members, in commitment we are slaves, and in fellowship we are the Lord’s friends. Among these aspects, the matter of being a brother is the most crucial for us today. Being a brother has life and love in view. If we aim at profit and development instead, we shall lose the reality of the church life.
With this general understanding there is the further need to more fully appreciate what it is to be a brother. There are four points on this matter that we shall cover in this message. Firstly, being a brother is our place by birth. Secondly, it is our highest exercise by growth. (Regardless how much you grow, you will never outgrow being a brother. Don’t consider apostleship as something to grow into. Even an apostle exercises his apostleship by being a brother.) Thirdly, being a brother is the hardest thing for us to learn. Fourthly, it is the greatest manifestation and test to our person.
It is Our Place by Birth
Being a brother is our place by birth. When I was young our family went through financial hardship. In Hong Kong we ate only one meal a day for quite a period of time. That meal was always the same: rice and yellow bean sprouts. To this day I appreciate that meal. I didn’t despise my parents because of our poverty. Through that period of hardship I actually came to appreciate my parents much more. I am proud of my family. Why? I was born to this family.
By our divine birth we have all become brothers. Don’t allow yourself to forget who you are. Your first name is Brother, and your last name is Christ. Don’t seek to become something else. Learn to appreciate the place of your birth. God has not given you a birth that is short in something. God has given you a birth that is adequate to meet all His needs and all your needs. This birth is the most precious gift we have received; yet many are distracted from this reality by something they think is higher. Nothing is higher than your being a brother. No matter how much you grow in life or become enriched in truth and experience, you will never be able to grow beyond being a brother. You can enrich your being a brother, but you can never change it to another status.
It is the Highest Exercise in the Process of Our Growth
Secondly, we need to appreciate that being a brother is the highest possible exercise in our growth. One’s growth is determined by one’s exercise. A child grows in life and exercise until he is able to operate as an adult. Regardless of how much a person grows, however, he will never outgrow being a human being. Yet many brothers seem to grow to a point where they don’t know how to be brothers anymore. No son should ever tell his father, “I have grown to the point where I don’t need to walk on two legs anymore. I now walk on my hands and knees.” I believe many brothers cause much concern to the Lord in this way. They don’t realize that besides being a brother there is nothing else for them to grow into. If they would just exercise in their “brothership” they would be healthy and able to minister life to the Body. What a beautiful church life there would be when no one is after anything other than being purely a healthy brother in the Lord’s recovery.
It is the Hardest Thing for Us to Learn
We also need to appreciate how being a brother is the hardest thing for us to learn in our experience. To learn to be anything else in the church life is relatively easy. Compared to learning what it means to be a brother, learning what it is to be an apostle is easy. Many full-timers become too busy, too burdened, and too tired to function as brothers anymore. No matter how many years you have been just a brother in the church life, it is possible that you will forget how to be a brother once you pick up something else. This is a life-long matter and it is difficult to master. No matter how long you have been exercising as a brother, it only takes a few things to come in for you to lose the thought of being first a brother in the recovery.
It is Our Highest Manifestation and Test
In addition, being a brother is also the greatest manifestation and test to our person. Nothing manifests or tests us as much as this matter of being a brother. Manifestation and test always go together. Whenever you are manifested, you are also tested. In fact, your manifestation is itself a test. The more you are manifested, the more you are put to the test.
I wish to give you seven areas in which being a brother manifests and tests our exercise in the church among the saints.
1. It Tests and Manifests Our Maturity in Life
Firstly, being a brother manifests and tests our maturity in life. The more mature you are, the more you will know how to be a brother. If you don’t know how to be a brother then your supposed maturity is false. Many lose their ability to fellowship as they remain in the church life. They become selective about whom they spend their time with. They may lose their ability to fellowship unless it involves the work. This indicates they have not grown normally. They may seem to have grown, but they actually have become abnormal. You can never grow out of being a brother. The more you grow, the more you grow into the reality of what it is to be a brother.
2. It Tests and Manifests How Much We Have The Humanity of Jesus
Secondly, the amount you have experienced the humanity of Jesus is tested and manifested in this matter. Often after a brother becomes manifested, a little bit of his humanity is gone. Maturity in life is closely related to one’s humanity. Your humanity is actually the reality of your maturity. If you want to know how mature a brother is, don’t observe his preaching. Any talented person can learn to preach among us, even without Christ. To learn whether a brother is mature or not, observe his humanity.
There are many brothers among us who seem spiritual, but what marks their spirituality is that they are not human! They may consider that they speak as the oracle of God, yet when they are with the saints and unbelievers they exhibit none of the humanity of Jesus.
3. It Tests and Manifests What We Have Seen of Divine Revelation
Thirdly, your being a brother tests and manifests what you have seen of the divine revelation. What you have seen will be tested and manifested by whether you can be a brother in the church life.
4. It Tests and Manifests Our Operation in the Church Life.
Fourthly, being a brother tests and manifests your commitment and operation in the church life. This is not according to our concept. We might think our operation is seen in such things as giving messages. Very few realize that one’s operation has to do with whether or not one can grow as a brother in the church life.
5. It Tests and Manifests Our Exercise in Ministry
Fifthly, our operation as a brother manifests and tests our ministry. If you have a ministry, the highest and most perfect exercise of that ministry will issue out of your ability to be a healthy brother in the church life.
6. It Tests and Manifests Our Daily Walk
Sixthly, being a brother is manifested and tested in your daily walk. Do you walk daily as a brother in the church, or as something else? You must be impressed that the standard for all manifestation and all the testing has to do with whether you can be a brother or whether you must be someone special. Perhaps when you are carrying some responsibility your daily life is charged, but when you have nothing formally committed to you then you treat the church life as nothing. Thus it is manifested that you live not as a brother in the church, but as a worker in a company. In your view there are leaders and managers, and you regulate your living accordingly. This is not the true church life.
7. It Tests and Manifests the Effectiveness of Our Labor
Seventhly, our being a brother manifests itself and is tested in the effectiveness of our own labor. Let me say an honest word. Anyone who doesn’t know how to be a brother cannot be effective. I have seen brothers travel and give glorious conferences and yet produce nothing. If you labor, you should be effective. The effective laborers are those who have learned how to put themselves among the saints as brothers. I haven’t seen many traveling brothers who have learned this. Those who have are effective in their endeavoring. In all these points you have to be impressed that what manifests and tests us is all involved with whether or not we appreciate the matter of being a brother in the church life. We may appreciate other things and miss the one thing that really requires our appreciation.
Being a brother is the ultimate manifestation of spiritual reality in life, in truth, in revelation, and in exercise. How useful you become in the Lord’s hands has to do with these four things.
It is in our blood to classify people and rank them according to degree of seniority or importance. Unconsciously, due to such a mentality, we begin to maneuver to obtain what we see as a higher place in the church life. Therefore you must be impressed that there is nothing more precious, nothing higher, or more important than just being a brother. I have heard all the talk about who is important now in the recovery and who is sitting where in the meetings, and so on. We all appreciate the brothers who can give a wonderful testimony, and tend to despise our own portion. How many appreciate that even though they are “nobodies,” they can render the full life-supply to a meeting? We don’t realize that many problems in the church come about because everyone desires to be manifested while despising what they already have as brothers in the church life.
I hope you can retain this word in your memory. You may not appreciate it fully now, but perhaps in ten or twenty years you will. You probably will continue to aim at manifestation. You probably won’t be content with being a brother. Perhaps after feeding on the husks of traveling and conferences you will remember this word and return to the Father’s house. At such a time you will really become a life-giver and not a problem-producer. The Father will run to you much faster than He did to the prodigal son!
Even if the Lord would raise you up to travel among the churches and to give conferences, do not appreciate your “apostleship.” Appreciate being a brother in the Lord’s recovery. Many problems today in the Lord’s recovery have come about from those who seek apostleship or those who are already traveling as apostles. A brother who falls into sin or weakness will not cause serious problems. It is the gifted, ambitious brothers who tend to cause problems for the church.
It is only in the last two or three years that I have been able to learn this lesson. I have found that it is not so simple just to be a brother in the Lord’s recovery. Can you just be a brother in the church life, encouraging the saints, giving the saints life, and loving the Lord? The Lord may even use you greatly, but your prayer of thanks should be, “Thank you, Lord for placing me as a brother in the Lord’s recovery.”
Some of you have already given conferences. It only takes a few testimonies on how much help someone has received by your sharing for you to forget your last name. What if after serving the college-aged the elders asked you to serve on children’s service? Would you be able to take it? Or if you were asked to give up a large work and move to a small church and labor with an elder there, would you be able to go? Your reaction will show what it is you appreciate. If you appreciate that you are just a brother, you will be happy to go. If you are appreciating a work that fits you and manifests your talent, you will have a hard time.
You should, as full timers, labor to produce fruit for the Lord. There is a great need for many to be trained that they may perfect the saints and raise up churches. There is such a need, but I wonder what will happen in a few years as you travel and give messages. I wonder whether you will grow well or whether you will become a source of problems.
Regardless of how manifested you become, always remember that you can never be more than brothers in the Lord’s recovery. Appreciate being a brother. If you appreciate your being a brother, you will be adequately protected. Then, whether you are lifted up or stepped upon, you will not be bothered. The reason many are no longer with us today is because they were unable to pass through such a test. This is why I am so concerned when I hear that some of you are giving conferences. You feel so high, not anticipating the test that is surely awaiting you.
Many in the past have been unable to pass through the test of manifestation. For this reason I do not like to hear any brother praised. By my word you should realize how ignorant many are when they fight for their manifestation. And yet you need to be manifested for your operation in the church life. You must be aware that the test to your manifestation will have to do with whether you can continue to exercise in the church life as a normal brother. If you can do this, you will be able to survive every test.