LOVING THE LORD PURELY
How can we experience the cross? A person’s spiritual experience begins with loving the Lord. This love has to be single and pure. Many Christians’ love for the Lord is not that pure. Perhaps someone will ask, “Do you mean that I have a hidden motive in loving the Lord?” This is not what I mean. However, many Christians’ love for the Lord is mixed with their own preference; thus, their love is not pure. Our love for the Lord should be pure. We should not desire anything besides Him, not even something for our spiritual enjoyment. We should desire only the Lord Himself. Our heart has to be ready to say, “O Lord, I want whatever is Your will, and I reject whatever is not Your will.” If we simply love the Lord, we will have the light to see that all that comes out of ourself has already been put on the cross. Thus, we will reject everything that is of us. Once we have this light, we will be able to sense in our daily living that which is from ourself. Once we have such a feeling, we must take up our cross and obey this feeling. If we ignore and disobey this feeling, this means we have come down from the cross. At that moment we are separated from the cross.
THE CROSS DOING THE KILLING WORK
If we love the Lord, He will show us the cross and enable us to receive and bear the cross. In this way the cross will be able to work in us and do a killing work day by day. When we are about to do something by ourself, the cross will do a killing work in us. When we are about to love someone by ourself, the cross will do a killing work in us. When we are about to read the Bible by ourself, the cross will do a killing work in us. And when we are about to visit people by ourself, the cross will do a killing work in us. Because we love the Lord, once we have the sense of the cross, we will obey it. Because we love the Lord, we will receive and take up the cross and reject everything that is of ourself. This is the spiritual experience.
However, there is hardly anyone who always chooses the cross, who never rejects the cross, and who always acknowledges the cross. Hence, God raises up many things in our environment to show us whether we are those who always choose the cross. Many times God prepares a wife or a husband for us to test us and to see if we will choose the cross. The purpose of the outward striking and the inward breaking is to find out if we will choose the cross. It is in this kind of circumstance that many lovers and seekers of the Lord encounter difficulty. If we love the Lord and are willing to take the cross, the Lord will use the outward environment to see if we will truly take up the cross. Sometimes, because of our reluctance in taking the cross, God will use the environment to smite us and break us.
If inwardly we are willing to always bear the cross, we will save ourselves from many outward troubles. Often a person may seem to love the Lord, pursue the Lord, and be zealous for Him, but inwardly he has never seriously chosen the cross or taken up the cross. So God must use many kinds of environments to deal with him and cause him to suffer the breaking. All these outward blows, breakings, and trials are due to his unwillingness to choose and take up the cross.
If we know the cross, we will welcome humiliation more than glory, difficulty more than ease, and adversity more than prosperity. If we know the cross, we will say that we only deserve to stay on the cross, be ended by the cross, and be terminated by the cross. This is our glory. This glory is not something out of ourselves; it is Christ.
THOSE WHO ARE PURE HAVING PASSED THROUGH THE CROSS
Only those who have passed through the cross are single and pure. Those who have never passed through the cross can never be pure before God. If we have never passed through the cross, even our humility will have the mixture of the self. Hence, many times a Christian may seem to be holy outwardly, but inwardly he is filthy. When he says, “Thank you,” the self is there, and when he shows his humility toward others, the self is in it. If we have the light of the cross, we will see that we are just filthiness. Unless the cross has removed our self, we are still unclean. The work of the cross in us is to take away our naturalness and our uncleanness.
If the Lord is merciful and gracious to us, many of our problems will be eliminated, and much of the friction will disappear. The church should be one, but without the breaking and dealing of the self through the cross, it is difficult to have this oneness. Only those who have passed through the cross know what genuine oneness is.
(The Crucified Christ, Chapter 5, by Witness Lee)