CHRIST BEING THE CENTER AND THE REALITY OF ALL OUR SPIRITUAL ACTIVITIES
This does not mean that when we go out to preach the gospel, we do not need to tell people about God, sin, Jesus being the Savior, and the way to receive Him as their Savior and that we only need to tell them that we are transmitting Christ into them that they may become “grapes.” Rather, we hope that all Christians would see this light so that in their gospel preaching they would forget about heaven, hell, and future suffering. We have to tell people that the reason they suffer is that they do not have Christ. They have many other things, but they do not have Christ. We have to let them know that we are Christians, we have Christ in us, we are branches of Christ as the vine, and we have come to contact them in order to transmit Christ into them. When they have Christ in them, they will become precious, bright, and heavenly.
We all should preach the gospel in this way—to transmit the Christ from within us into our friends and everyone in our family. We all are branches of the vine. When Christ’s life is transfused into us and passes through us, flowing out from us into others, they will have Christ’s life and become the fruit we bear as branches of the vine. This is the goal of our gospel preaching. If we preach the gospel without imparting Christ to others, our gospel has no center and no reality. The center and the reality of all our spiritual activities should be Christ Himself.
The principle is the same in the visiting, the building up, and the shepherding of the believers. Christ must be the center and reality of all spiritual activities. For example, there may be a brother who has a problem, who lost his job, or who fell or backslid, and we go and visit him merely to console him, comfort him, and tell him to pray, to read the Bible, and to receive the enlightening. Even though we cannot say that this is wrong, this shows that we still do not know spiritual reality. We are simply rendering him some help and comfort. Although this is good, if it is void of Christ, there is no center and no reality. The center of all spiritual things is Christ, and the reality of all spiritual things is also Christ.
MINISTERING CHRIST TO OTHERS THAT THEY MAY HAVE MORE OF CHRIST
If we have seen that spiritual reality is Christ Himself, when we go out to visit the saints, to shepherd the saints, or to teach the saints, we will hold on firmly to the principle that we are ministering Christ to them. This is not merely to comfort them in their suffering but to transmit and supply Christ into them through fellowship. For this reason, we need to gain and experience more of Christ, because if we have not received the supply from Christ, it will be difficult for us to supply others, and if we have not experienced Christ, it will be difficult for us to nourish others. There is a hymn which says, “He lives for me that I may give / His love to hearts that pine” (Hymns, #362). May we all be this kind of people, giving His love to the hearts that pine.
Some preach the gospel with escape from eternal perdition as the goal, and others preach the gospel with the ministering of Christ to others as the goal. We are already clear about the difference between the two. Hence, when we go out to preach the gospel, we have to firmly grasp this principle and center— that we are transmitting Christ into others that they may have Christ’s life and nature, that is, that they may have the life of the vine. This is the goal of our gospel preaching.
Similarly, we may also have two different goals in edifying and caring for the saints. Many times we do not take Christ as our goal in taking care of the saints. For example, when a person is sick, and we go to visit him, we often want to give him some consolation. When a person cannot distinguish his left hand from his right, and we go to visit him, we want him to have a clear mind. In our visiting, exhorting, and shepherding, we always take things other than Christ as our goal. Because we do not see this matter clearly and do not take it seriously, we miss the center and purpose of our gospel preaching and visiting. We must see that apart from the Lord we can do nothing.
Spiritual reality depends on supplying man’s need with the Christ in us. If we have seen this, no matter what we do, whether exhorting, encouraging, or shepherding people, we will firmly grasp the principle that we are ministering Christ to others so that they may have more of Christ. It is true that when we visit people, we hope that they would be zealous and would not backslide. However, we have a more positive goal, which is Christ Himself; we have to minister Christ to them. Whether they are indifferent, backslidden, or befuddled, we have only one goal, and that is to transfuse Christ into them.
(The Crucified Christ, Chapter 13, by Witness Lee)