EPISTLES OF CHRIST
In the New Testament we have not only 1 Corinthians, but also 2 Corinthians. Whenever there are two books of a certain kind in the New Testament, the second is more vital than the first. For example, 2 Corinthians is more vital than 1 Corinthians, 2 Timothy is more vital than 1 Timothy, and 2 Thessalonians is more vital than 1 Thessalonians. Thus we should not stop with 1 Corinthians, but go on to 2 Corinthians. Second Corinthians does not take care of your gifts; it deals with you. In this book what matters is how much you have been anointed and sealed (2 Cor. 1:21-22).
In 2 Corinthians 3:3 the Apostle Paul likens us to an epistle: "Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart." It is not a matter of how many gifts we have, but of how much we have been written upon. What is important is that we are an epistle of Christ, an epistle that speaks for Christ and that ministers Christ to others. How much of Christ has been written on you by the Spirit of the living God? The living Spirit must be constantly writing something of Christ upon you. Throughout the past years, a great deal may have been written into your being by the Spirit. If so, then you are not an epistle of just two or three pages, but perhaps of a hundred pages. If anyone begins to read you as an epistle of Christ, it will take him several hours to finish. As he reads you, he will say, "Certainly this man has a great deal of Christ. He is a person full of Christ." However, some of you may just have three or four words written on you. This is what you are as an epistle of Christ.
In 2 Corinthians the Apostle Paul no longer had the thought of gifts. Rather, he turned the attention of the church in Corinth to the need to have Christ written into the being of all the saints. Something of Christ must be inscribed into our being, not with ink, but with the living Spirit. Everything that is written into you is written by the Spirit. If a great deal of the Spirit has been inscribed into your being, you will not always need to function. Sometimes you simply need to let others read you. In 2 Corinthians it is not a matter of functioning, but a matter of being read by others. When others come to you, will they find something of Christ in your being that they can read? We all need to have Christ written into our being by the life-giving Spirit. If in the meetings there are none who have Christ written into them, you will have the sense that the meeting is empty. But if even one with Christ written upon him is present, the meeting will be enriched. Such a one does not need to say anything or do anything. Simply by being present he enriches the meeting, because a great deal of Christ has been written upon him by the living Spirit. We need to go on from 1 Corinthians, the first stage, to 2 Corinthians, the second stage. In 1 Corinthians it is a matter of function; in 2 Corinthians it is a matter of Christ written upon us.
MIRRORS REFLECTING CHRIST
In 2 Corinthians 3 Paul firstly likens us to an epistle in which people can read Christ and then to a mirror with an unveiled face that beholds and reflects Christ. As an epistle, we need to be written upon. But as a mirror, we need to reflect. How much of Christ has been written into you, and how much do you reflect Christ? If you reflect Christ, there is not always the need for you to stand up and function in the meetings. (This does not mean, however, that I am saying you should not function.) If Christ has been written into you and if you with an unveiled face have been looking to Christ day by day, in the meeting you will be a mirror reflecting Him. When people look at you, they will see Christ. This is not a matter of functioning, but of reflecting. Reflection is much more than function. However, in today’s religion people know only a little of the matter of function; they do not care for reflection.
When we come to the meetings, we need to reflect Christ. This is not a matter of gifts, but a matter of growth. As we grow in Christ, more of Him will be written into our being by the living Spirit. Whatever has been written upon us will be reflected from us. Thus, we are not only an epistle, but also a mirror reflecting Christ. Today Christ needs epistles and mirrors. He needs many epistles with Christ written on them by the all-inclusive life-giving Spirit so that people may read Christ on them. We are the living epistles. At the same time, we need to be bright, unveiled mirrors reflecting the very Christ who has been written into our being. This will strengthen, uplift, and enrich the Body life. We need such a Body life, a Body life not only according to 1 Corinthians, but also according to 2 Corinthians.
(The Spirit and the Body, Chapter 17, by Witness Lee)