CHRIST AS THE TREASURE HIDDEN WITHIN THE EARTHEN VESSEL
There is nothing miraculous about life, growth, and building to attract us. Is there something attractive about a seed sown into the ground? After perhaps ten days a little shoot comes up and starts to grow. Next week it looks the same as this week, but after three months we can see something small growing. Is there anything attractive, miraculous, or powerful about this process? It is powerful, but not in an apparent way. It is something precious but hidden. If something is not hidden, it is not precious. All the artificial things are superficial; all real treasures are hidden. Only those who have spiritual discernment—those who know a certain brother in Christ not according to the flesh but according to the spirit, not according to outward appearance but according to the inward reality—can realize that with him there is something precious. The inward working of Christ in a brother is the hidden treasure.
In this matter there is no outward show. We, however, may like the outward show. We may like to see that all the ones in the church are like angels. Tell me, though, what have you actually seen? If you say that everyone is wonderful and better than the angels, you are not mentally sound. There is not such a thing on this earth. Someone else may say that they have seen nothing good; everyone is still just flesh. This is marvelous. A certain brother is still that certain brother. The earth is still here, but there is a treasure hidden within him. We are not angels. You may be a Southern Californian, and I am a Chinese. You may be “white earth,” and I may be “black earth.” However, you must realize that there is a measure of Christ within us. The treasure is hidden under the earth.
I treasure a brother not because he is that brother but because Christ is within him. This is the precious stone; the poor earthen vessel means nothing. Those who handle precious stones buy ones that for the most part look ugly outwardly. This is because they discern through the ugliness the precious stone that is within. If we take nice looking stones to these experts, they may not want them. We should not present ourselves to the “experts” in a nice looking way. The more we show ourselves to be nice, the more the experts will say there is nothing precious within; it is all a show. The experts can see through the show and realize something. The more ugly one is outwardly, the more precious he may be inwardly. This is the treasure hidden in the earthen vessel. We must know people today not according to the outward appearance, not according to the flesh, but according to the inward spiritual preciousness. This is something of Christ worked into us, and this is transformation.
This is a small sketch, a small hint, that we may see what we need today. We do not need an outward show in which everyone looks better than the angels. Instead, we need Christ sown into us, and we need to grow in Christ in a normal, ordinary way, with nothing that is miraculously attractive. We need to grow in Christ and be transformed with Him that we may truly have the fine flour that is good for bread to offer to God to satisfy His desire and to feed others, that they may be transformed to be good material for God’s building. This is the proper way. If we know how to sow, grow, build, and be built up, then we can experience the very Christ revealed in the first two chapters of 1 Corinthians. The secret of experiencing Christ is in the third chapter: to have Christ planted into us, to grow in Him, and to be built up in Him. Pray for these things, that they may become real to us in these days.
(Practical Lessons on the Experience of Life, Chapter 15, by Witness Lee)