By Norman Grubb
The Fixed Fact of Christ
How a large mission functions as a living fellowship
By NORMAN P. GRUBB
As General Secretary of the Worldwide Evangelization Crusade, with his headquarters in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, Norman Grubb serves one of the largest missionary families in the world. The following article is reproduced by permission from his latest book, “The Four Pillars of W.E.C.,” and describes the manner in which this mission seeks to function as a true fellowship.
STARTING FROM THE TOP, it has been our conviction for thirty years that the healthiest and most scriptural form of leadership in a work of God should be a spontaneous product from within rather than something imposed from without or above.
In staff meetings, fellowship in the Spirit takes precedence over the actual matters to be discussed and decided. A staff meeting is much more like a family gathering than an official “board meeting.” Our spirits are continually refreshed by the singing and praying and ministry of the Word, by sharing with each other of the Lord’s dealings, and by hearing testimonies from the fields.
Discussion on all points is perfectly free. The chairman’s job is to give each his turn and to encourage the more silent ones to express their views. By this means every member of the Crusade comes to realize that they are the Crusade, taking their proper share of responsibility for finding God’s way for us, exercising the faith for its implementation, being bound together in the family fellowship and sharing the family secrets, sorrows, and joys—sons in the family, not servants or employees.
Does business get done this way? A missionary secretary said to me in our early days, with an air of finality, “Impossible.” But not so impossible. Weaknesses, yes; room for improvement in business organization, plenty; but at least the work has expanded from thirty-seven workers to over nine hundred, from one field to forty, with another one hundred recruits in training or under testing, and the expectation of another five hundred.
“So Plain Difficult”
Anybody who knows the condition of missionary societies or mission fields knows that loving one another as Christ commanded is the highest pinnacle and the least scaled in the whole range of the life in the Spirit. It just is so plain difficult, with such precipices to scale and such rarefied air to breathe, that we mostly prefer the lower levels of getting on with each other with as little outward friction as possible.
As a missionary secretary, I would not like to guess what percentage of my correspondence centers on relationship complexes or situations that include them, and very often I am mixed up in them myself! Wounds are often a blessing in disguise, and the sad experience of division in early days has given us, I think, a divine determination not to let God’s work go down the drain through divisions among brethren, the house which falls if divided against itself, the biting and devouring of one another which ends in consuming one another. God has kept us together most wonderfully these thirty years; the progress and enlargement of the work, without loss of loyalty to fundamental principles, is an evidence of this.
How are we to maintain this “unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”? Years of experience and experimentation have taught us some workable principles. The basic one is unchangeable and unconquerable, if maintained in the rubs of daily life, the impact of personality upon personality, as well as in the tensions of the co-working and the clashes of opposite viewpoints. It is the fixed fact of Christ in us. If we believe that of ourselves, and thus of our brethren in grace, then the foundation of a preserved unity is unalterable—Christ is the real Person in me, and the real Person in him and her and them; and Christ in me and Christ in them is One Christ. We are all part of the same Person, as the body is of the head. We are one. We don’t become one or restore a broken oneness. Oneness cannot be broken. But surface disagreements can be so real that we regard it as broken and act as if it were broken. We allow ourselves to be trapped into the illusion of unbelief. What is on the surface has a more real impact on us than the unchangeable foundation beneath.
Take the matter of human relationships. We quickly see and respond to what irks us. We don’t like this and that about our co-workers. Quirks of personality rub us the wrong way: too talkative, too quiet; too positive, too negative; too jumpy, too placid; too mystical, too practical; too business-like, too irresponsible. And so it goes. It doesn’t take long for the minor dislikes to shadow out the major love of Christ in the one for Christ in the other, for depreciation of the human faults to blot out the appreciation of the gifts and fruits of the Spirit.
Equally in major matters of policy, organization, and viewpoint, differences may be real. There are bound to be these, because truth is in an interaction of opposites, one viewpoint complementing the other. But how then avoid the tendency to see flesh or devil in the one who take the opposite point of view, and the Holy Spirit and true guidance in our own opinion?
What other way, whether in these personality clashes or in the concerns of the work, than seeing and constantly affirming the major as major through it all, and the minor as minor? The major is Christ in my opposing brother giving him His light, much as I hope He is in me giving me what I see. The minor, of course, is the magnification of our differences. The mote, as Jesus said, is obviously the fiddling little thing in my brother which has taken on major proportions in my sight; the beam in my eye, the log of wood is this mounting, enlarging critical attitude towards him which blocks out my seeing him as I normally should, Christ in me seeing Christ in them.
I know no way through, therefore, and have advocated and sought to keep my eye single on Christ in the other fellow or other party in a controversy, just as I have to do the same in an adverse situation, and keep seeing Him by faith in and through the appearance of the opposite.
The Truth in Love
That does not change my convictions. I may still feel that I wished so and so wasn’t like that or didn’t behave like that, or that this or that method of work or decision was changed. I may still hold to this and say so on right occasions. But I then speak the truth in love, and with the humility which esteems others better than myself, and maybe more right than I. And anyhow I have plenty of wrongs in myself that others can see. So I say “I disagree with you. I oppose you in this thing. I wish you were different in this or that respect. But you are a container of Christ, as I trust I am. I see Him in you more than I see you. Therefore you and I are one, and I am honoured to be joined to you in Christ, and want to do my part in not letting lesser differences appear to break our unity in co-loving and co-working. Love in this respect is greater than the lesser truth of whether you or I are right about this.”
This is a possible way of continuing together, not only possible, but practical and actual. We have proved it a thousand times in our ranks through the years.