APPLYING THE CROSS OF CHRIST
We must also experience the cross. The enjoyment of Christ is something on the positive side, while the cross is on the negative side to deal with all the things that are not Christ Himself. The old creation, the self, the flesh, the natural man, and the soulish life all need to be dealt with by the cross. If we want to take Christ every day, we need to experience the cross. Christ and His cross are the unique solution to all the problems in the Christian life and church life. All problems in the Christian life and in the church can be solved only by Christ with His cross.
If a married couple is not able to get along well, this indicates that they are short of the experience of Christ and the cross. To be sure, if they learn how to experience Christ by taking the cross, they will live harmoniously. The primary problem in the church, in the work, among the co-workers, and among the brothers and sisters is due to one thing—the lack of experiencing Christ by taking the cross. It is the same in a family. If all the members of a family appropriate Christ in their daily life and take the cross, everything will be right among them. If the co-workers and responsible brothers in a church realize how to take Christ as everything and experience the cross, everything will also be right with them.
Teachings cannot solve our problems. The more we give people teachings, the more problems and troubles we create. For example, if we come to a husband to teach him to love his wife, he may say, “You had better tell my wife to submit to me.” If we then go to his wife to teach her to submit to her husband, she may say, “You must tell my husband that he needs to love his wife.” All of this is mere doctrine. I saw all of these things, and in the early days of my service I failed many times in this way. When I talked with a sister, I would tell her to read Ephesians 5, which says that she must submit to her husband. Then she would charge me, saying, “Don’t teach the sisters only. Go teach my husband.” Then I would go to the husband and teach him also, and he would tell me to go teach his wife. Sometimes teachings help in a small way, but they do not solve our problems thoroughly. The only answer to all of our problems is Christ and the cross.
Many times I have tried to help people in another, better way. I would speak to a sister, saying, “Sister, do you love the Lord? Do you know where He is? He is within you. Would you like to contact the Lord, have some fellowship with Him, and offer yourself to Him?” We should forget about a sister’s quarrel with her husband and simply help her to take Christ and to realize that her old man, her flesh, and her soulish life all must be put on the cross. Then we may check to see if she knows how to realize the cross in her daily life. Although this is a teaching, it is a different kind of teaching. It is a teaching that helps her to realize Christ and apply the cross. In this way the problems will be solved, not by teaching but by Christ and the cross.
All the problems with Christians and all the problems in the churches can be solved only by Christ experienced and the cross applied. There were divisions among the Corinthians because those believers paid their attention to gifts, signs, knowledge, and wisdom, but they very much neglected Christ and the cross. Therefore, there were many problems. The more gifts and knowledge we have, the more problems we have. All the divisions and denominations were produced out of gifted persons. In the past four or five hundred years, whenever there was a deeper, gifted person, a division or sect was often created, and the more gifted the person was, the greater the division was.
All the gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians are spiritual gifts, not natural gifts. We may think that spiritual gifts can do no harm. In actuality, the gifts themselves do no harm, but the persons who are gifted often do a great deal of harm by the gifts. From the time of the Reformation through the present day, there has rarely been a very gifted person who has not created a denomination, sect, or division. We cannot say absolutely that there has not been an exception, but it is rather difficult for us to point one out. Almost every famous gifted person in the past centuries created a division by his gifts.
Although we do need the gifts, we should not pay attention to the gifts. We must pay our full attention to Christ Himself. All the gifts are for Christ. The Corinthians were not lacking in any gift. Chapters twelve and fourteen especially show us how many gifts were exercised and practiced among them. However, chapter three says that they were fleshly and babyish. In these days we must be aware that we should not pay attention to the gifts. If we pay attention to the gifts, divisions will come. Although the gifts themselves are good, it depends on how we handle them. We must realize that Christ is the center, and all the gifts are for Christ.
(General Sketch of the New Testament in the Light of Christ and the Church, A - Part 2: Romans through Philemon, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)