FILLING UP THE AFFLICTIONS OF CHRIST
I realize that this point is not so easy to understand, but we must see it very clearly. For the seeking ones of the Lord to deny the world is a marvelous thing; to deny themselves is even more glorious. But one day the Lord will call us to deny our spiritual attainment, even as He did. He was the very God, but in a sense He put His divinity aside to come down to earth to be a man (Phil. 2:5-8). By becoming a man, He denied what He was as God; yet He still was God. He became not a glorious man, but a man of low estate. He sacrificed all that He was in order to come to the earth to accomplish God’s purpose by suffering as a “man of sorrows.”
Perhaps we also have reached a high attainment. We are now so spiritual and heavenly. This is sufficient for us, but it is not sufficient for the Lord’s purpose. So in a sense, we must deny our spiritual attainment to come down and take a low estate with the Lord.
Paul the Apostle did many things which caused the religious people to misunderstand him. It seems that he relinquished all his attainment to fill up the lack of the afflictions of Christ. He speaks of this in Colossians 1:24. “Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church.” We have no share in the Lord’s suffering for redemption—only the Lord could suffer for our redemption. But we can suffer for the building up of the Body. We need to fill up the lack of the Lord’s affliction for His Body’s sake. Many times people thought Paul was rejected by God, but he was suffering for the Body of Christ.
Today, in principle, it is exactly the same. So many Christians in Christianity are seeking spirituality in a general way. But after they reach the highest attainment of spirituality, if they really mean business with the Lord, the Lord will call them to deny their spirituality for the eternal purpose of God. Many so-called spiritual Christians would not offend anyone. They like to keep themselves continually in the heavenlies—so high, so wonderful, so spiritual—like angels. But the Lord will say, “Let us leave Lebanon and go down into the valley. I am the suffering One under the dew, and there is still a lack in My suffering which needs to be filled. You are spiritual, and everyone admires you, but where is My Body? Where is My church?”
If we stay in the heavenlies, we will be spiritual and never offend anyone. We will be gentle and nice to all and never get ourselves involved with others. But what about God’s purpose? I have been warned many times by dear friends not to mention the church. Then everyone would be happy with me, and all the groups would invite me to come and speak to them. They have told me that I should not be so much for the church, that this will only create many enemies, and I will just sacrifice myself.
The Song of Songs makes it very clear that if we only care for the Lord’s eternal purpose and not for our spirituality, we will be a man of sorrows. Not only the world, but also Christianity will persecute us. Even many spiritual Christians will persecute us. But we must open ourselves to the One Who is under the dew and the drops of the night. This is the filling up of the lack of Christ’s suffering for His Body.
(Life and Building as Portrayed in the Song of Songs, Chapter 10, by Witness Lee)