A LACK OF ADEQUATE REVELATION OF LIFE
Though many of us have heard about the matter of life in the Bible, we nonetheless do not see it adequately. Let me illustrate.
Suppose I go home and knock at the door for my wife to let me in. When she does not open it fast enough to suit me, I knock again hard. Then the door opens and she says, “Why do you have to bang on the door?” I reply, “What takes you so long to get here and open it?” Then I go in and sit down to eat the dinner she has prepared for me. While I am eating, I am regretting, thinking how poor I am. I told others to live Christ and to walk in life, yet look how I behaved. The food is sweet, but the feeling is bitter. I must apologize, confess to my wife, and ask for forgiveness. I am reluctant, because after so much teaching of others to walk in life, I do not have the face to admit my shortcoming. Nevertheless, I do make confession and then add, “I hope from now on I will never behave that way again.”
Do you think my word never to “behave that way again” is right or wrong? To express that kind of wish shows that I am short of the revelation of life. It indicates that I am still trying to improve my behavior; that I am not taking Christ as life; and that I do not have the real intention to take Him as my life.
GOD’S CONCERN FOR LIFE, NOT BEHAVIOR
We need revelation to see that God is not concerned about how we behave. Whether you hate your wife or love her, whether you are proud or humble, are not what matters. God wants you to take Him as your life.
Notice that when God created Adam and placed him in a garden before a tree, He did not command Adam to worship Him, to love his wife and be a good husband, nor to behave nicely and be a good father to the children they would have. If we were God, we would no doubt have given Adam many such exhortations. We would have also added some negative commands, that Adam must not be hateful, nor proud, nor kill his wife, nor smite his children. Our Genesis 2 would have been much longer!
God’s only command to Adam was regarding eating. If Adam ate of the wrong tree, death would be the result; if he ate of the right tree, life—the eternal, divine life—would be his. What we eat becomes part of us. The food we eat is assimilated to become our very being. We are composed of the chickens, cows, and other foods we have eaten! In that garden stood the tree of life, signifying the Prince, Originator, Author of life, Jesus Christ, the very God, as our life. Had Adam taken of that tree, he surely would have taken God into him; God would have been in him. This very thought is in the New Testament, in the Gospel of John, when the Lord Jesus said that He would be in us and we in Him (John 14:20). How is He to be in us? We must receive Him, as is signified by eating and drinking. He is the bread of life. “He who eats Me shall also live because of Me” (6:35, 37). He is also the One who has the water of life. “If anyone thirst, let him come to Me and drink.…Out of his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water” (7:37-38). The Lord Jesus likened our receiving Him to eating and drinking. When we eat and drink, something is taken into us.
READING OUR CONCEPTS INTO THE BIBLE
When we come to the Bible, however, we miss this concept that God desires to come into us to be our life. Genesis 2 clearly implies this. But we pass over this concept and pay attention to what the Scripture says about love, or submission, or kindness, or humility. In effect, we each have our own version of the Bible. Brother Nee once told us that everyone’s Bible is according to himself. Though there is only one Bible, in the hands of Christians it becomes many. Our Bible reflects us; it says what we want it to say. If we are slow, when we read the Bible, we overlook the portions that mention being quick. If we are husbands, we overlook the verse about husbands loving their wives and pay attention to, “Wives, be subject to your own husbands as to the Lord” (Eph. 5:22). The wives, for their part, slight the verses on submission and notice the verse that says, “Husbands, love your wives” (v. 25). Throughout the whole Bible runs the theme of life. But because we do not have this concept in us, we do not notice it. Instead of reading something from the Bible into us, we read into the Bible what is already in us. That is why we find submission, love, humility, and kindness there. That is why we see good behavior and correction in its pages.
We need a revelation of life! Then we shall realize that whether we love or hate, it is still from ourselves. In a way, love is worse, because then we expose ourselves; when we hate, we try to hide it. The same is true with humility and pride. It makes no difference whether we are proud or humble. God wants us to live Christ, not humility or pride. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I, but Christ that lives in me. This is God’s desire and intention.
If I see this, I shall speak to my wife differently after I lose my temper with her for not opening the door fast enough. Rather than promise not to behave that poorly again, I shall say, “Dear, I feel ashamed. I did not live Christ. Pray for me, that I may have the grace, in things great and small, to live Him. Whether I am humble or proud before you, there is no Christ. Pray for me. I do look to Him that I may live Him in every situation.” This is what God wants. By living Christ the tree of life gets into us.
(Life Messages, Vol. 1 (#1-41), Chapter 41, by Witness Lee)