LEARNING TO BE AN INWARD CHRISTIAN,
TO BE TRANSFORMED FROM WITHIN,
FOR THE PRACTICE OF THE CHURCH LIFE
Brothers and sisters, I look to the Lord that our eyes may be opened to see that with us Christians it is not a matter of changing things outwardly. It is not that formerly we had hatred but now we try to cultivate love because we are taught that hatred is not good. It is not that formerly we had pride but now we pray to the Lord to give us humility, since we are taught that pride hurts, damages, and spoils things. Nor is it that formerly we easily lost our temper, but now we have learned to be patient because we found out from Proverbs that patience is desirable and profitable.
We may have some changes outwardly, but what about inwardly? The human way, the religious way, the way of Christianity, is to improve man in his outward conduct and behavior. The Lord’s salvation, however, is to transform us from within. He wants to spread out from our very center, saturating and permeating all our inward parts with Himself. In this way we will be transformed from within. Then there will be no need for us to get rid of the troublesome, outward things. Because of the maturity and the growth of the inner life, all the troublesome, outward things will spontaneously be dropped. The life for the practice of the church life is a life of transformation by the Spirit.
When you are being transformed by this wonderful One, many times you experience the effectiveness of the all-inclusive death of Christ on the cross. Something within kills your desire, your motive, your intention. Sometimes when you are being transformed, you sense the release, the liberty, and the glorification. Something within makes you want to shout, "Hallelujah!" And sometimes when you are being transformed, you sense the government, the headship, and the lordship of Christ. You sense that the very Christ is on the throne, and He is the real King to you. Furthermore, you sense that you are reigning with Him, and you are His co-partner in the kingship. On the one hand, you are ruled and governed by Him. On the other hand, you are ruling with Him and sitting on the throne with Him. Many times you have the sense of the Lord’s divinity, humanity, and human living within you. You have the deep inner feeling that what the Lord is, what the Lord has, and what the Lord has done are realized in you.
The church life is Christ Himself as the Spirit permeating, saturating, and transforming us. When we are fully transformed and are full of Christ, we will become the living, real, practical members of Christ. Then it will be easy for us to be joined, knit, and built up together with others. This is to be built up not with something natural as wood, grass, and stubble, but with something transformed as gold, silver, and precious stones (1 Cor. 3:12). The church is not formed by organization and discussion and by electing a chairman, a secretary, and a treasurer. That is a religious organization. The church is organic, something growing up in life.
In order to have the church life, we need to go to the cross and take care of Christ, who is the wonderful Spirit within us. We need to take care of our inner feeling, inner guidance, inner shining, and inner registration. If we would go to the cross and realize Christ within us, we will be clear. All problems are solved by the cross. This is why in 1 Corinthians 2:2 the apostle Paul told the believers that he did not determine to know anything among them except Jesus Christ and this One crucified. The church life is a transformed life, not a natural life. It is Christ Himself, not as an objective doctrine but as the subjective Spirit living within us.
Let us learn the lesson of being an inward Christian, not an outward Christian. Do not try to change yourself outwardly. That is false. You have to be transformed from within to become a living member of the Body; then you will realize the genuine church life. This is what we need today.
(The Life and Way for the Practice of the Church Life, Chapter 9, by Witness Lee)