There’s a certain correlation between the occupation of those called by the Lord Jesus to follow Him and their future ministry in the Lord.
When the Lord Jesus called Peter and Andrew, they were casting the net into the sea to catch fish (Matt. 4:18-20); Peter’s ministry was to catch men alive, to be a fisher of men – and so he did, at the Pentecost, he “hauled in” a large batch of “Jewish fish”, then in the house of Cornelius, he again brought in many “Gentile fish”.
When the Lord called John, him and his brother James were mending their nets (Matt. 4:21). John’s ministry was later in life to mend the net of the church.
But this mending of the net / mending of the church doesn’t mean merely “repairing a tear” but restoring, fixing, equipping, perfecting, completing, and framing together. It is a work that restores people, fixes them, equips them, perfects them, completes them, and frames them together for God’s building.
John’s ministry of mending was that, after the materials were brought in by the likes of Peter (fishermen, evangelists), he would mend them, perfect them, add to them, complete them, make them suitable, and attune them so that these materials (the brothers and sisters in the Lord) would be built up together in God’s building (see 1 Cor. 1:10; 2 Cor. 13:9; Gal. 6:1; 1 Thes. 3:10).
God doesn’t desire merely a “pile of materials for His building” brought in by those who preach the gospel – He wants a built up Body where all the materials are edified, mended, perfected, equipped, and attuned. We need some saints who have experienced Christ’s inward mending and who can also mend us to make us buildable members of the Body of Christ.
The Mending Ministry of John – Much More than “Fixing a Hole” in the Fabric of the Church
The mending ministry of John includes much more than “fixing the holes” in the fabric of the church or “dealing with the heresies” that crept into the church.
The word for “mending” in Matt. 4:21 doesn’t mean necessarily that John and James were fixing their nets because they were broken. It includes that they were fixing their nets, equipping them, adding something to the nets to perfect them and make them more complete.
The same Greek word for mending appears also in Eph. 4:12 for perfecting the saints, in 1 Cor. 1:10 for being attuned in the same mind, in 2 Cor. 3:19 for perfecting, in 1 Thes. 3:10 for being complete, and in Gal. 6:1 for restoring with a spirit of meekness. The Greek word for mending means so much – to mend is to prepare, to equip, to perfect, to complete, to fix, to join together, to restore, and to attune.
In the church life we need such a ministry of mending – not merely to outward correct the damage but to do a positive work of developing, perfecting, and completing. After those who preach the gospel bring in the new believers, there are some saints who simply come along with an unspectacular ministry of daily and regularly dispensing life, restoring, perfecting, completing, and attuning.
Not only the new believers need this: we also need such a ministering! Does anything in you need to be fixed? Do any of your relationships need to be mended and restored? Is there anything that you would like the Lord to restore to you and in you? The Lord wants to restore to us the years that the locusts have eaten – did you ask Him to do it?
Furthermore, don’t we all need to be perfected and prepared? Don’t we have shortages, shortcomings, problems, gaps, and other issues that need the Lord’s mending? Don’t we need the Lord to add Himself to us much more today?
The Lord Jesus called us to follow after Him, and the way He makes us His disciples is by infusing Himself as the light of life into us until we become shining ones, the light of the world. Then, we can be fishers of men (like Peter) and menders (like John).
In the church life today we need both ministries – the preaching of the gospel to bring in sinners and make them sons of God, and the mending ministry for all the saints to be restored, perfected, completed, and made suitable for God’s building.
We need the mending ministry of John in a practical way in the church life today so that we may be restored, fixed, equipped, perfected, completed, and framed together in the Body.
The Goal of the Mending Ministry – God’s Building
The Gospel of John is on Life and Building – Christ as life came to mend us, rendering an all-inclusive tender care to all our inner being to restore us, equip us, perfect us, and complete us, so that God may gain a building, the church.
It is very sad to see that brothers and sisters who love the Lord and even serve in the church life for years (even decades) are still not buildable. They may be spiritual, but they are not “spiritual with someone”, that is, they are not built up with someone.
The mending ministry is to fix us, restore us, perfect us, prepare us, complete us, add to us, adjust us, equip us, make us suitable, and attune us so that we might be built up together with others .
Without the mending, many brothers and sisters may be brought into the church life but they are not built up – they are like a pile of materials. The Lord doesn’t want a “huge pile of materials”; He is building up His church by using some of His “menders” to mend the saints and cause them to be buildable.
We may think we are OK, we are built up, but we may not realize that we need to be made suitable – everyone else sees that we need to be made suitable except us. May we not reach a certain advanced age physically and spiritually and not be built up and buildable, even though we may be positive, active, spiritual, serving, and pursuing!
How can we be mended by the Lord so that we may be built up in the church as His Body? Simply let the Lord mend you – He is the One building up His Body, and as we are open to Him to be exposed of our need of being mended, His supply will meet the need. To be built up and grow in life you need to be open to be exposed and mended by the Lord through the members of His Body.
May we not be so active in “serving the Lord” that we would not be open to be mended by Him! Also, may we not be so passive that we don’t open and we are not willing to be exposed by the Lord.
The Lord doesn’t merely want many materials for His building – He desires to build up the materials into His house as the divine-human incorporation, the Father’s House, the Son’s vine, and the Spirit’s new man. For this, there’s the need for a lot of mending, perfecting, equipping, and attuning.
Lord Jesus, we open to Your mending. You know what we need, and the Body knows how to mend us. Lord, we need to be restored, fixed, equipped, and perfected. We need to be completed and framed together. We open to Your mending ministry through the perfected members. Save us from being not built up. Make us buildable. Break through in us. Expose what needs to be exposed and mend us in a complete way. Lord, we need much mending, perfecting, equipping, and attuning so that we may be buildable! Gain the New Jerusalem, that built-up corporate building, Your ultimate expression and manifestation!
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my Christian experience, bro. Ron Kangas’ speaking in the message for this week, and portions from, Collected Works of Witness Lee, 1970, vol. 1, “New Testament Service,” ch. 9, as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, The Mending Ministry of John, week 1 / msg 1, The Mending Ministry of Life (you can buy this morning revival book here).
- Further reading: recommending ch. 2 in, The Mending Ministry of John (by Witness Lee).
- Hymns on this topic:
# If we would be built together; / If related we would be; / To be fitly framed together; / Follow brothers constantly. / Follow brothers for the building; / Never independent be; / Follow brothers, be in order, / Functioning in harmony.
# In the Body we’ll be fitly framed / As the many members Christ supply; / Working in the measure of each part, / All by growth in love the Body edify.
# Perfected and nourished from house to house meeting, / We speak one by one that the church may be built. / As little by little ev’ry enemy’s fleeing, / More and more surpassingly with glory we’re filled.