IN THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST
Christ’s death did not take place only in the six hours of His crucifixion. Christ’s death began from His birth and continued to His last breath while He was on the cross. Therefore, the death of Christ was a process that lasted thirty-three and a half years. First, after Christ was born, He was not placed in a comfortable home but was laid in a manger (Luke 2:7). A short time later Herod attempted to kill Him (Matt. 2:7-12, 16-18). Then He escaped to Egypt and became an escapee there (vv. 13-15). Later, His parents wanted to bring Him back to Judea, but because Archelaus the son of Herod was reigning over Judea, Mary and Joseph were afraid to stay there, so they took Jesus and settled in the despised city of Nazareth in the despised region of Galilee (vv. 19-23). There the Lord lived not in a mansion but in a carpenter’s cottage. Although Mary, His mother, was very spiritual and knew the Scriptures very well (Luke 1:46-55), at times even she troubled the Lord Jesus (John 2:3-4). Through this we can see that every day and even every minute of those thirty-three and a half years, Christ was dying.
The death of Christ was the aggregate of all His sufferings. We are not the only ones who are being consumed; Christ took the lead to be consumed. From the time that He was born, He was under the consuming. This consuming was His sufferings, and the totality of His sufferings equals His death. Thus, Christ’s death took place over a period of thirty-three and a half years. The death with the greatest suffering is the death that occurs over a long period of time. Christ’s death was such a suffering death. We, His believers, are in the fellowship of His sufferings (Phil. 3:10b). To be in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings is to participate in Christ’s sufferings.
The reason for Christ’s death is twofold. First, Christ came to do the will of the Father (Heb. 10:7-9a). Whenever we do the will of God, the entire world, including Satan, men, and even the demons, will oppose us (John 15:18-19). Because we are people who are doing the will of God, every day we suffer. The Christian life is not a life of pleasures. On the contrary, the Christian life is a life of suffering because we are doing the will of God.
Today there is some division in the Lord’s recovery. Some of the dear ones who are with us are making divisions. Because of the contagious germs of division within these ones, it is not wise for us to contact them. According to Romans 16:17 and Titus 3:10-11, we must turn away from the divisive ones. This kind of turning away is like the quarantining of a contagiously sick person. Because some of the saints were closely related to the divisive ones, their carrying out of this kind of quarantining is a suffering to them. Second John 10 says that we should not even greet those who are heretical in the teaching concerning Christ’s divine person. Furthermore, 1 Corinthians 5:11 tells us that we should not even eat with a brother who is living in sin. Because of their close relationship with the divisive ones in the recovery, some of the saints have said that they cannot quarantine them. However, even though Miriam was Aaron’s sister, he still had to quarantine her during the period of her leprosy (Num. 12:10-15). Hence, even to exercise to practice the proper quarantining is a suffering. We suffer because we do not like to see these dissenting ones separated from us. Nevertheless, if we do not quarantine them, we will not be doing the will of God, for we will annul the testimony of the oneness of the Body.
(The Christian Life, Chapter 16, by Witness Lee)