THE SUBJECTIVE EXPERIENCE OF CHRIST
Scripture Reading: Gal. 1:13-16; 2:19-20; 3:1-3, 14, 24-28; 4:6, 19; 5:1-2, 4, 16-17, 22-25; 6:1, 8, 14-18
In the previous chapter we saw Christ in a full way in Colossians. Colossians is a short book, but the revelation of Christ in it is full. It is a full revelation in a brief way. It shows Christ in His relationship with God, creation, redemption, and the church as the new creation, and it reveals that He is the reality of all the positive physical, material things, which are only shadows of Christ. Moreover, Christ is life to us for today and hope to us for tomorrow. All these items are very great. Christ is related to God, to creation, to redemption, and to the church. He is the reality of all things, and He is subjectively related to us. We have to clearly know all these items and properly keep them in mind. Then we have to apply this Christ to ourselves as our life to us today and hope to us for the future.
In His relationship to God, Christ is the image, the expression, of God, and all the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Him. He is the mystery—the history and “story”—of God, and He has the preeminence. In God’s plan, economy, and in all things God purposed to give Christ the first place in everything.
In Christ’s relationship with creation, He is the Firstborn, the first item, of all creation. All things were created in Him and through Him. Moreover, all things exist, subsist, and cohere in Him at the present time and are for Him in the future.
In His relationship with redemption, Christ is the Redeemer. He accomplished redemption, dealing with many things, such as sin, self, and the world. He also dealt with the evil forces by “dusting” off the principalities, powers, and dominions in the heavenly places. All those powerful elements were dusted off by Christ through His cross.
In His new creation, the church, Christ is the Head and the Firstborn from the dead. He is the first in resurrection. Such a Christ is the reality of all the things we need and enjoy. Whatever we see, possess, and enjoy are all shadows; the reality of all these things is Christ. Moreover, such a Christ is our portion. As our portion He is our life within for today, and He is the hope of glory for the future.
I have simply named the items of what Christ is. We cannot speak these things adequately in such a short way. Most Christians know Christ only as the Son of God, the Savior who died for us on the cross, not realizing Christ in the way revealed by Colossians. I hate that I do not have the time to explain more so that you can be deeply impressed with such a Christ.
CHRIST BEING EVERYTHING IN THE NEW MAN
In addition to the six points above, this Christ, who is our life and hope, is everything in the new man. The new man is the church, the Body of Christ. In the new man there is nothing but Christ. What then of all the different people in the Body? As we shall see, they have been put to death and buried; now Christ in them replaces them. In the church every item must be Christ. In the new man there is no Greek, no Jew, no barbarian, no Scythian, no slave, and no free man, but Christ is all and in all. All the old creation has been put to death and buried.
BY BEING INCORPORATED WITH HIM
Christ has been put into us, and we have also been put into Christ. In Colossians, as in other books, there is the little word in. Verse 27 of chapter 1 says, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” In 2:10 we also have the phrase in Him: “You have been made full in Him.” This shows that not only is Christ in us, but we are also in Him, as verse 7 says, “Having been rooted and being built up in Him.” He is in us, and we are in Him. He is living in us, so we have to walk in Him. Eventually, who is in whom? In this way we are identified with Christ. We may use the term incorporated. This is a spiritual, heavenly incorporation.
To be incorporated with someone is to be entirely related to him. By incorporating with us Christ becomes us, sharing all our responsibilities, all our weaknesses, and all things. If someone is in debt and we incorporate with him, we have to bear his debts. You may be a millionaire, and I may be a poor person with many debts. If you incorporate with me, then legally and judicially you will bear my debts, but at the same time I will possess your wealth. Mine is the debt, and yours is the wealth, but now what is mine is yours, and what is yours is mine. This is why Christ needed to bear our sins. Christ needed to bear our sins because He is incorporated with us.
This is not merely an exchange. A key item of today’s Christian theology is that Christ and we have an exchange. Our experience, however, is not a matter of exchange but of incorporation. Christ incorporates with us, so He becomes one with us and even becomes us. At the same time, we are one with Christ, and we even become Christ. Whatever He is and whatever He has is ours. He is in us, and we are in Him. Because He is in us, He bears all our responsibilities, and because we are in Him, we have the ground, privilege, and right to enjoy what He is and what He has. This means that we are one with Christ, and Christ is one with us.
In Christ we have been buried (2:12). Someone may be dead but still be present. To be buried is the finality. We have been rooted in Him, and now we are being built up in Him, because not only are we buried with Him, but we are also raised, resurrected, with Him. Now He is living within us as our life for the present time and as our hope for the future. Therefore, Christ is everything.
I do not know why today’s Christianity misses this mark. People today pay attention to many other things, such as election, predestination, and rapture, yet they have neglected and still neglect the simple, important, and obvious matters. I have the strong feeling and the deep assurance that in these last days the Lord must recover these matters. All other things are just the “wrapper.” The more precious things in a department store or jewelry store have more wrappings. I have been to Japan several times. It is very interesting to see how the Japanese patiently wrap the items in their stores. Eventually, they exhaust your patience by taking so long to put on all the beautiful paper wrappings. When we bring an item home, however, the little children appreciate the wrapping more than the contents, which are the central item. The contents are nothing to them; they are not as good to play with as the box and the wrapping paper. Poor Christianity! So many people just like the “wrappings.” They do not appreciate the precious content, which is Christ Himself. The sixty-six books of the Bible are just the wrapping; Christ Himself is the precious content.
In these days we must see the very Christ revealed in the short books of Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. In the future the Lord will give us the time and the burden to minister more and more of Christ from all these books. From Colossians we must remember eight points: seven related to Christ and one related to our experience of Christ, that is, that Christ is in us and we are in Him.
(The Experience of Christ in Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)