BEING TRANSFORMED BY THE DISPENSING OF CHRIST
As we behold and reflect the Lord with an unveiled face, we are being transformed (v. 18). To be transformed is not to have an outward change. Outward change is not transformation. That is merely a kind of correction. Transformation is something from within. We may illustrate transformation by the color of a person’s face. To color the face of a pale person is not transformation. This is only an outward correction. If, however, this person eats steak and chicken day by day, after a few months his face will be transformed from within. Transformation is a change in life, not merely a change in outward behavior according to the law or according to what is right. To be transformed into the image of the Lord is to be transformed from one degree of glory to another degree. Today a brother may be in one degree of glory, but after two weeks he may be in a second degree of glory, and after two months, he may be in yet another degree of glory.
Transformation is Christ dispensed into us. This is a change in life. When Christ is ministered and worked into us, we are transformed. This may be further illustrated by a glass of tea. Plain water can be transformed into tea by putting tea leaves into it. By putting tea into water, the water becomes “teaified.” Originally, regardless of how pure and good we are, we are plain, like plain water. The more Christ as the “tea” is added into us, the more we are “Christified,” that is, we are sanctified and transformed. To be transformed is just to have more Christ added into us.
TRANSFORMATION FOR THE BODY LIFE
Transformation is not merely for us to be sanctified, spiritual, or even marvelous and glorious. Concerning transformation, we have to go on from 2 Corinthians 3 to Romans 12: “And do not be fashioned according to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of the mind that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and well pleasing and perfect” (v. 2). Transformation is for the church life. It is for the Body. The will of God is the church, the Body life. This is confirmed by the verses following Romans 12:2. In verses 3 through 21 we see the Body. The will of God is not to prove what kind of marriage we should have, what kind of school we should attend, or what kind of house or car we should buy. It is that we get into the Body life. We must leave all these other things to the hand of God and simply be transformed by the renewing of our mind, that we may prove the will of God, that is, the Body life.
Christians today are mainly divided by opinions. Every Christian has his or her opinion. The way to be rid of all our opinions is by being transformed by the renewing of our mind. To be transformed is mainly to be renewed in our mind, and to be renewed in our mind is simply to be rid of all our opinions. Some dear ones may not care for our way of meeting. They may care to have a more quiet meeting. We may not like the noise in the meeting, but we have no choice. If we leave, we are divided and divisive. Therefore, we need to be renewed in our mind. If we are renewed in our minds by being rid of all our opinions, we will have the church life. If we are still bothered by the different things in Christian meetings, we are short of Christ.
Once when we were in New Zealand, I attended a small meeting in which there were more than twenty guitars. Nearly every young person brought a guitar to that meeting. If I had not had a proper measure of Christ, I might have walked out. That night, however, I not only had to stay but also to give a message. In my message I did not give them an unhappy face; rather, I gave them a smiling face. I was happy with all the guitars. Eventually I shortened my message and encouraged them to play more. It was a wonderful meeting. We need a proper measure of Christ. I do not care to see Christians dancing in a meeting, but sometimes some dear ones did dance. I was happy with them. Although I would not encourage dancing, by the measure of Christ I had no problem with them. This illustrates that we all need to be transformed.
In our early years in Los Angeles some brought tambourines to the meetings. Some of the brothers were angry with this. I asked one such brother, “In the eyes of the Lord, what is the difference between a tambourine and a piano?” He admitted that there was no difference in the eyes of God, but that there was a great difference in his eyes. I did not speak a word to rebuke him, but I fully realized that in this dear saint there was a shortage of Christ. After a couple of days I went to see the ones who played the tambourines. They also were short of Christ. They said that without the tambourines they could not release their spirit. If we need a tambourine to help us to release the spirit, we are short of the Spirit, short of Christ. There is no use in arguing with people who are short of Christ. Do not rebuke them. They are simply short of Christ. We all must see that we need a proper measure of Christ. We need Christ to be worked into us more and more.
The church life is the issue of the dispensing of Christ. The church life is the Body, and the Body is Christ. First Corinthians 12:12 says, “For even as the body is one and has many members, yet all the members of the body, being many, are one body, so also is the Christ.” In ourselves we are not one Body, but in the Spirit we are one Body. Verse 13 says, “For also in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and were all given to drink one Spirit.” To be in the spirit is to terminate our nature and to have all that Christ is to us. It is to terminate what we are and to take what Christ is. This is the church life and this is the Body. Today, especially in America, there is the wrong concept that we can have the Body life by teaching. We can never have a proper Body life by teaching. Neither can we have a proper Body life by the gifts. It is possible to have the Body only by Christ as life, so we all have to take Christ as our life. To take Christ as life is the dispensing of Christ for the church, the Body. The Body life which we have is simply Christ as the Spirit.
(Enjoying the Riches of Christ for the Building Up of the Church as the Body of Christ, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)