LIVING CHRIST IN OUR DAILY LIFE
In our married life we may try to imitate Christ, or we may exercise ourselves to live Christ. Many Christians have been taught to follow Christ’s steps in their married life. For example, a pastor may advise a married couple, saying, “Christ never quarreled with others. Now you should follow His example and not quarrel with each other. If you are tempted to quarrel, you must remember to follow Christ and live as He lived.”
Suppose a brother takes this advice and determines to follow Christ in his married life and never quarrel with his wife. However, one day his wife begins to bother him, and the Devil tempts him to argue with her. He resists for a while, but eventually he loses his temper. This, of course, is a failure in following Christ. This kind of failure is very common among Christians.
A few strong-willed persons, however, are able to gain the victory over the temptation to quarrel. No matter how much they are provoked, they do not lose their temper. They have determined to imitate Christ, following Him not to quarrel, and by their strong will they succeed. Is this the genuine experience of Christ in His experiences? Certainly not! It is merely the practice of a religious teaching.
I was born into Christianity, and from my youth I was taught from the Bible to take Christ as my pattern and follow Him. Later I learned the classical teachings of Confucius, which are very similar to the Christian teachings I had learned. I was bothered and began to wonder why we in China needed the foreign religion of Christianity to teach us the same things we had learned from Confucius. Because I was troubled about this, for a period of time I set Christianity aside. At the age of nineteen, I was saved. However, I still had a problem concerning the similarity of the ethical teachings of Confucius and Christianity. Confucius gave us certain good patterns to follow, and Christianity taught us to follow Christ as our pattern. What is the difference? I could not answer this question until I received help through the so-called inner life teachings. Then I saw that there is a great difference between following ethical teachings and living Christ, and I began to see the vision of Christ living in me.
Yes, in the four Gospels the Lord Jesus did say, “Follow Me.” This word, however, cannot be found in the Acts and in the Epistles. Instead of exhorting us to follow Christ in an outward way, the Epistles speak about being in Christ. Paul says, “I know a man in Christ” (2 Cor. 12:2) and expresses the desire to be found in Christ (Phil. 3:9). In Galatians 2:20 Paul says that he has been crucified with Christ and that it is no longer he who lives but now Christ lives in him. In Philippians 1:21 he tells us that for him to live is Christ. What a great difference there is between trying to imitate Christ outwardly and being in Christ, living Christ, and having Christ live in us!
In our married life, we need to live Christ. Suppose a brother is tempted to quarrel with his wife. If at such a time he considers how to follow Christ, he will be defeated. Before the temptation to quarrel comes, the brother should already be living Christ. He should be a person living Christ in his married life. If while living Christ he is tempted to quarrel with his wife, he will not quarrel with her. Because he is living Christ, he is living a life that never quarrels. This is altogether different from a strong-willed person making up his mind not to lose his temper. Instead of making up our mind not to quarrel with our spouse, we should live Christ, a life that is not ourselves, a life that never quarrels.
I am concerned that when some saints, especially the new ones, hear about experiencing Christ in His experiences, they may try to follow Christ merely in an outward way. If we try to imitate Christ, we shall be like monkeys trying to imitate human beings. We should not try to follow Christ. Rather, we need to be enlightened to see that in ourselves we are a hopeless case. We are “monkeys.” How can we imitate a man? We should forget about imitating Christ and see that we have One within us who is our life. This One is our Savior, the very Triune God, living in us. He is not only our life—He is even our person.
Our testimony should be that we do not know what it is to do good or evil; we only know to live Christ. We love Him and we fellowship with Him. Early in the morning, the first thing we do is call on Him dearly and lovingly, saying, “Lord Jesus, I love You.” Then we begin to talk to Him, to fellowship with Him, and to take Him in. To take Christ in is to eat Him. Then we shall enjoy Him, live Him, and be what He is.
If we are such persons, we will not yield to the temptation to quarrel with our husband or wife no matter how much we are tempted. We are now living another life, a life that can defeat the Devil and all the demons. This life is simply Christ Himself. Living this kind of life, a life that lives Christ, has nothing to do with religion, and it is absolutely different from the teachings of Confucius.
My burden in these messages is not to teach doctrines. On the contrary, my burden is to minister Christ to you, to share with you my enjoyment, which is one unique person, Jesus Christ, the embodiment of the Triune God. It is a wonderful fact that we have such a person living within us, and we can live Him and take Him as our person.
As a help to the new ones and the young ones, I would like to share an experience I had when I was a young Christian. Shortly after I was saved, my sister, who was a student at a theological school, tried to help me in my living as a Christian. One day she told me about a certain Bible teacher who was very patient and who always walked slowly with Bible in hand, stopping on occasion to gaze into the heavens or to look at the Bible. When I heard about him, I decided that I too would be patient and walk slowly. However, I was a “monkey” trying to be a man. I am a quick person and in myself I cannot live a slow, patient life. Eventually, I learned some of the inner life teachings, and I was enlightened to see that I had been crucified and buried with Christ. I saw that it is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me.
Instead of imitating Christ, we should live Him. In order to live Christ, we need to call on Him and enjoy Him. This is the way to live a victorious life, which is actually the overcoming Christ as our life.
(Life-Study of Leviticus, Chapter 10, by Witness Lee)