VI. CHRIST IN CHRISTIAN WORK AND MESSAGES
Christ Having the First Place
in Christian Work and Messages
Scripture Reading: Eph. 2:10; 1 Cor. 2:2; 2 Cor. 4:5
Life and experience are inward matters, while the work and messages are outward matters. Whether it be inward matters or outward matters, we should allow Christ to have the first place in all things.
Christ Having the First Place
in Christian Work
Christ should have the first place in our work. "Good works,...that we would walk in them" (Eph. 2:10). "Good works" are just Christ. The goal of God’s work is Christ, and we should walk in this work. All believers, no matter what profession they hold, are doing the work of God and should walk in God’s good works. To serve God and to work for God are two vastly different matters. Many work for God but do not serve God. Whether or not a work is of faithfulness depends upon the intent, motive, and purpose and if the goal is for Christ. In doing God’s work, although there is suffering, there is also joy; although there is difficulty, there is also comfort. There is also the attraction to God’s work. We often work because of our interest, not because of Christ. Many times men run to and fro to work for a name for themselves. They have worked, but they have not served God. God’s work from eternity to eternity has always been with the view that His Son would have the first place in all things. Therefore, our work should also be for Christ. If God does not purify our intent and motive, we cannot receive God’s blessing. We work not for sinners but for Christ. How successful our work is depends on how much Christ is in it. We should allow the Holy Spirit to discern our intention right from the beginning, to see if it belongs to the spirit or to the soul, and to see if it belongs to this side or to that side. Our work should not be for our own increase, our own group, or our own message; rather, we should work for Christ. As long as God gains something, we should rejoice. When we see God gaining something, even if it is not through our hands, we should be happy for it. We are not saving our message but saving sinners; we are not here to gain our own heart but Christ’s heart. When things go our way and we gain something, it means that the Lord gains nothing and nothing goes His way. If we would take God’s gain as our satisfaction, we would not be proud or jealous. Many times we seek God’s glory as well as our own glory. God saves men for Christ, not for us. Paul planted, and Apollos watered. It was not accomplished by one person, lest anyone would say, "I am of Paul," or "I am of Apollos." All the things concerning the work are for Christ, not for the worker. We are the loaves in the Lord’s hand. When people eat the loaves, they thank the one who gives them the loaves; they do not thank the loaves, which are we. The work from its beginning to its end is all for Christ, not for us. We should be satisfied with the work allotted to us by the Lord and with the position the Lord arranged for us. We should not be "in another man’s rule" (2 Cor. 10:16). We like very much to leave our own lot to tread on another’s lot. The question is not whether we can do it or know how to do it, but whether God has commanded it. Sisters should stand in the sisters’ position (1 Cor. 14:34-35). Sisters should not be teachers, making judgments concerning God’s word (1 Tim. 2:12). In all the work, we should let Christ have the first place.
Christ Having the First Place
in Christian Messages
Christ should also have the first place in our messages. We "preach...Christ Jesus as Lord" (2 Cor. 4:5). "For I did not determine to know anything among you except Jesus Christ, and this One crucified" (1 Cor. 2:2). Christ is the center of God’s plan and the center of God’s goal. The cross is the center of God’s work. The work of the cross is to accomplish God’s goal. The cross works to eliminate all that issues from the flesh in order that Christ may have the first place. Our central message should not be the dispensations, the prophecies, the types, the kingdom, baptism, forsaking denominations, speaking in tongues, keeping the Sabbath, or holiness, etc. Our central message should be Christ. The centrality of God is Christ. Therefore, we should take Him as the center.
After a person is saved, we should help him to consecrate himself to be a slave of Christ, so that he receives Christ as his Lord in all things.
All the truths in the Bible are related like a wheel with spokes and a hub, having Christ as the center. We are not neglecting the truths outside the center; rather, we need to link these truths with the center. Concerning any truth we should know two things: (1) we should know about this truth, and (2) we should know how this truth relates to the center. We should pay attention to the center. Of course, this does not mean we do not speak of other truths. Paul said, "I did not determine to know anything among you except Jesus Christ, and this One crucified" (1 Cor. 2:2). Later he also said, "But we do speak wisdom among those who are full-grown" (2:6). It is only after a person has consecrated himself and received Christ as his Lord that we can speak to him the truths concerning his building up. In our work we should continually draw people back to the center and let them see that "Christ is Lord." We cannot do this work in an objective way. We ourselves must be the first to be broken by God and allow Christ to have the first place in us, before we can lead others to receive Christ as Lord and allow Christ to have the first place in them. We must live out a life of giving Christ the first place before we can spread this message. Our message is just our person. We should allow Christ to have the first place in the small things in our daily life before we can preach the message of the centrality of Christ. I only wish that every one of us would give the Lord Jesus His place on the throne! If the will of God is to be accomplished, what does it matter if I am put in the dust? The Lord’s "well done" surpasses all the praises of the world. The smiling face of heaven surpasses all the angry faces of the earth. The comfort of heaven surpasses the tears of the earth. The hidden manna is enjoyed in eternity. May the Lord bless His word that He would gain us and others also.
(Morning, January 31)
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 11: The Present Testimony (4), Chapter 10, by Watchman Nee)