GOD’S INTENTION FOR US TO PUT ASIDE
OUR NATURAL LIFE AND TAKE CHRIST AS OUR LIFE
Before we go on to see the way, I feel that I need to share a little concerning the matter of God’s intention. Although we have a physical life, a natural life, a human life by birth, God’s intention is that we take Christ as our life. This is something quite "troublesome." We have a life already, yet God wants us to take another life. We are so used to living by the natural life which we already have, yet today God wants us to give up, to put away, to put aside, this natural life and take Christ as our life.
Many Christians do not know that there is the need of a change of life, not a change of their behavior or conduct. We have to put our natural life aside and take another life. However, the natural thought or concept is always to improve, correct, or even repair the natural life just like repairing a poor, old car. God’s demand, however, is that we put the car away and take an airplane. We may have a 1921 Ford, a poor little old car, and our intention is to repair it, to change some of its parts to improve it, and to paint it and make it look nicer. But God wants us to put it away and take the airplane.
The problem is that we are so used to the poor car and have developed some affection for it, so we are not willing to put it aside. Perhaps we put it aside, but we still go back to look at it. This is our story. What we are doing all the time is trying to repair the "poor car" to improve it a little. But God demands that we forget about the old car, the poor car; that is, forget about our old self, our own life. God wants us to put that life aside and take Christ who is the heavenly airplane. We need to take Him as our life.
In the past years I have seen thousands of Christians, even good Christians, in the Far East, in Europe, and in this country. But very few practice this matter of day by day putting away the "old car" and taking the "airplane." They are good and religious Christians, but they are not living by Christ or taking Christ as their life.
In 1937 the church arranged for me to stay in a Christian home. The couple and their family were so good. Day by day I had the realization that both the husband and wife were nice and wonderful, but I was concerned that they did not know how to put themselves away and take Christ as their life. I could sense that they were good, naturally and religiously, but they were not taking Christ as their life. They talked with me about a lot of things and about a lot of persons, but what was their standard? Their standard was not Christ, but good and evil. They knew how to be good and how not to be evil, but regretfully, they did not know how to take Christ as their life. They often remarked that a certain kind of conduct was not Christ-like. They knew how to be Christ-like, but they did not know how to take Christ as their life.
Do you realize that there is a difference between being Christ-like and taking Christ as your life? You may be Christ-like, but you may not know at all what it means to take Christ as your life. From my own experience I know it is easy for me to preach the gospel to a very evil person, but it is rather hard for me to preach the gospel to a good person. I learned that I had to be careful and patient in trying to preach the gospel to a good person. I might say something like this: "In the garden of Eden, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was in contrast to the tree of life. Good is not life, just as evil is not life. Only Christ Himself is life. God does not want us to be good or evil. God wants you and me to take Christ as our life." Brothers and sisters, we have to put away, to put aside, our natural life and take Christ as our life.
(The Life and Way for the Practice of the Church Life, Chapter 5, by Witness Lee)