ENJOYING THE RICHES OF CHRIST TO BECOME HIS FULLNESS
I have spoken these things to show you what the church is. The church is the Body of Christ, which is the fullness of Christ. The measure of a person’s stature is his fullness. A person with a short and slender stature does not appear healthy, but a tall and heavy person has a fullness. A large person is not born that way, but he gains his fullness by taking in food with its riches for many months and years. We have several thousands of brothers and sisters who are all called ones meeting together. We thank and praise the Lord that we neither quarrel nor argue. Rather, we all come to listen quietly to the Lord’s word. Nevertheless, this is not the basis to determine the measure of the stature of Christ among us. Ephesians 4:13 says, “Until we all arrive…at the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” The fullness of Christ is the Body of Christ. Since it is the Body, there is a stature with a measure. Several thousand Christians who love the Lord may come together, but how much content, how much fullness of Christ, and how much measure of the stature of Christ do they have among them? This involves a great deal. We have been meeting together for many years, and unlike those who are outside the church, we do not wrangle or act loosely. This is a good situation that is commendable. However, how much stature of the Body of Christ does each one of us have within us? This is hard to say; it depends on how much Christ we have within. If each one of us is full of Christ within, each one lives Christ, and each can say, “I am crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me,” then within we all have arrived at the full measure of the stature of the Body of Christ.
I believe that many of us have such an experience: Many times we regretted and repented not because we had done something wrong or committed a sin, but because we felt that we did not live by Christ that day. We may have said, “I am a good man, I love people, and I behave properly; everything about me is good, but I do not live by Christ.” Do not think that those who do not live by Christ are devoid of goodness. There was a certain man in Chinese history named Liu Hsia-hwei who was said to have such great self-cultivation that he could retain his presence of mind in the face of extreme temptation. Wang Yang-ming, a great Confucius scholar of the Ming Dynasty, was also excellent in his self-control and self-cultivation. In his writings, some of which I have read, he said that one should not practice self-control merely as something outward, like trees without roots or springs without a source. He taught that one should work out something from within. I am convinced that his self-control was far better than what we see in the majority of Christians today. However, was that Christ? No matter how good it was, was it Christ? Wang Yang-ming could not say, “Now it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.” We can say this, but he could not say this. Many times I have not done anything wrong for the whole day. I did not lose my temper but rather treated people with humility. Although I managed to do all these things for the whole day, at night before I went to bed I felt remorseful. I told the Lord, “O Lord, forgive me. Today everything about me was good, but I did not live you. Today I have had humility and patience, but I did not have Christ. In my living today, I did not live Christ.” There is a big difference here.
Brothers and sisters, if one day you repent all the time not because you have sinned or done something wrong, but because you have done everything right without Christ, then I am convinced that at that time you will enter into a new stage in life. You will often pray, “Lord, forgive me. My living for the whole day was right but altogether without You. I did not live in spirit, I did not follow the Spirit, and I did not exercise to be one spirit with You. I was very good in being humble, patient, and loving, but I did not have You. I offended and contradicted You, and I even replaced and substituted You.” I hope that you will have the experience of this stage.
Paul said, “For to me, to live is Christ” (Phil. 1:21a). Can you say that to you, to be patient, to be humble, to love your wife, or to submit to your husband is Christ? You cannot say that because it is altogether you, not Christ. Therefore, if we Christians truly love and pursue the Lord, we will reach a stage in which we feel that we lack Christ in our living and still have many replacements which replace Him. When you lose your temper, your temper may not replace Him, but when you endure by clenching your teeth, you may be replacing Christ.
Many years ago, a brother once invited several of us brothers to his home for a love feast. His wife, who had not yet received the Lord, was disgusted with his invitation. This brother worked in the customs office. Before he received the Lord, he used to take his wife out for pleasures and parties. Now that he was saved, his life had changed completely, and he loved to invite those of us who were co-workers and elders to have love feasts in his home. He may have overdone it somewhat, so his wife was very annoyed. That day I was among those invited, and I saw the situation myself. Once we brothers came into the house, we realized that something was wrong. He lived in a big house, and there were some beautiful paintings hanging on both sides of the hallway, but that day when we entered through the door, we saw that the paintings were on the floor. Right away we realized that this was a bad sign. The pictures did not fall by themselves; they had been struck down by his wife. Fortunately, his wife did not chase us away, so we went into the living room and sat down, and after sitting there for about half an hour, we went into the dining room to have the meal. To our surprise, the dishes and the rice on the table were all cold. The wife had served us with cold leftovers from the previous day. We looked at one another, not daring to say anything. We were worried that the brother would lose his temper and quarrel with his wife in front of us, and how embarrassing that would be! We looked to the Lord that He would “calm the wind and the sea” so that they would not fight in front of us. The brother was reluctant to pick up his chopsticks because he was so embarrassed, so we started eating in the hope that he would not say anything, and he joined us in eating. For him to endure such an insult and say nothing at that time was certainly something tremendous! I observed him and studied whether his enduring of the insult was out of himself or out of Christ. Later, I found the answer to my study. Half of it was Christ, but the other half was still himself, yet we thank and praise the Lord that we still saw a little of Christ there.
What is the church? The church is Christ. The church is the Body of Christ, which grows and is formed by the daily enjoyment of Christ, by us who belong to Him, through eating and drinking Him. This may be compared to our eating and drinking every day. The food and drink which we digest within us become the constituents of our body. When we enjoy the riches of Christ, we become the fullness of Christ.
(The All-Inclusiveness and Unlimitedness of Christ, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)