LOST IN CHRIST
Using myself as an example, I can say that my experience of contradictions during the early years of my salvation was unbearable. At the moment I finished dressing and was prepared to go out, there came an inner sense that I should not go, and then when I returned to my study room to read, there came another sense that I should not read. I just did not know what to do. This contradiction comes from two parties: we ourselves and Christ in us. Perhaps according to our preference we want to visit a friend, but Christ says, “It is your preference to visit your friend; I do not agree.” Since He disagrees, we decide to stay home and read a book, but He says, “This is still your preference.” Gradually, we learn that whenever we have a sense within, the best thing is to kneel down and pray until we are one with the inward sense. Then, we are no longer in the state of contradiction. Rather, the more we pray, the more we sense the presence of God; the more we pray, the sweeter His presence is. In this way, a part of us becomes lost and is dissolved in Christ.
No one who is a Christian is exempt from having contradictions. Every Christian goes through a state of contradiction during the initial phase of his salvation, and the degree of contradiction may become very intense until he reaches a certain level of maturity when the Lord and he have become one. At that stage, the degree of contradiction diminishes because he has matured to a point where he is totally lost in Christ. One who has not reached this state is still spiritually immature.
After we are saved, we usually experience certain contradictions because Christ in us wants us to gain Him, and He also wants to gain us. His intention is to have us mingled with Him. However, because we do not know His intention and are not accustomed to it, the more we pursue Him, the more contradictions we experience. It is as though there is a person within us who is constantly against us. It is as though He disapproves of everything we do in our daily life. It seems in particular that if we do not have a good prayer time in the morning to seek after Him, we do not sense many contradictions throughout the day. But when our prayer times are very good and our fellowship with the Lord increases, the contradictions during the day increase. If we do not pray or have fellowship with the Lord for a month, our living will be carefree and sloppy. However, if we have good prayer times and have good fellowship with the Lord, our contradictions will definitely increase. I believe that we all have this kind of experience. Today if we have a sweet time with the Lord in intimate fellowship and thorough prayer, then amazingly we sense that everything we try to do is not right. Sometimes the bothering gets to a point where we even doubt and ask, “Is it better to pray or not to pray? Why is it that if I do not pray, I am calm and clear, but if I pray, I become confused?” These confusions are all manifestations of the contradictions in us. We are confused because there is an internal conflict. Therefore, the more confusion and contradictions we experience, the better it is. What we should be afraid of is that we have neither confusion nor contradictions. All confused ones are ones with contradictions, and the ones with contradictions are those who have Christ in them as their Lord.
BEING CONFUSED RATHER THAN BEING COMPLICATED
We are not afraid if someone is confused; rather, we are afraid if someone is not simple. One day there was a brother who was faced with a great difficulty, so he went to see two elderly brothers. After receiving instructions from them on how to resolve the difficulty, he returned home to act according to their advice. However, as he proceeded, there was a forbidding within. Therefore, he became confused. He said, “The words of the two elderly brothers are very clear, but why is it that within me there is a forbidding, a contradiction? What is wrong?” When the event unfolded after a few days, the confused brother realized that what he had sensed as a forbidding was actually the prohibition from the Spirit of the Lord. If he had done according to what the two elderly brothers had advised, the outcome would have been totally different. The two brothers considered the matter according to common experience, and although their consideration was right, the Holy Spirit intervened. We have to understand that this is also a case of contradiction. When a person has contradictions within, this is proof that he is a true Christian. This is why we say that the more contradictions we experience, the better Christians we become. If we do not have contradictions, then there must be problems with us.
If our condition is proper before the Lord, we will have a great deal of contradictions. However, if we have a problem before the Lord and our fellowship with Him has been interrupted, the contradictions will disappear. The sisters experience a great number of contradictions in the matter of attire. Normally, a Christian should have some feelings of contradiction concerning what they wear. If a person claims to be saved and yet has never experienced any contradiction in the matter of clothing himself, then either he is not saved or his salvation is still questionable. A normal Christian most definitely has a great deal of feelings of contradiction. This is because a person who has received the Lord has been lost in Him and has become one with Him. Nevertheless, because we are not easily subdued by the Lord so as to surrender before Him, we always have disputes with Him. We have one idea while the Lord has another idea; we have a desire while the Lord has another desire. Consequently, the two ideas and the two desires bring in contradictions. This is why we say that a Christian who is contradictory within is a true Christian.
(The Pursuit of a Christian, Chapter 6, by Witness Lee)