SUFFERING FOR PRODUCING
AND BUILDING UP THE BODY
We go on from the power of resurrection to the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings. Although it is wonderful to enjoy the power of Christ’s resurrection, the power of resurrection is not mainly for our enjoyment. In God’s economy there is no selfish enjoyment. The power of Christ’s resurrection is for the producing and the building up of the Body. God’s intention is not to express Himself through certain individuals; it is to express Himself through a Body composed of many believers. Thus, the expression of God in man is not an individual matter, but a corporate matter. If we put ourselves aside and remain under the death of the cross, we shall enjoy the power of resurrection. Immediately, the power of resurrection will produce the Body. This goal of producing and building up the Body stirs up opposition. Satan knows of this goal, and he stirs up opposition against it. The goal of building the Body always arouses opposition. When the opposition comes, we suffer. In this way we enter into the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings.
Philippians 3:10 speaks of knowing Christ, of knowing the power of His resurrection, and then of knowing the fellowship of His sufferings. According to Colossians 1:24, these sufferings are for the Body. In this verse Paul says, "Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up what is lacking of the sufferings of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church" (Gk.). When I was young, I was troubled by this verse. I said, "Christ’s sufferings have been completed. How can Paul say that there was something lacking in Christ’s sufferings?" I honestly thought that Paul was wrong. How can we say that anything related to Christ is not complete? Nevertheless, the Bible reveals that there is something lacking in the sufferings of Christ. Although everything else related to Christ is complete, His sufferings are not complete.
CHRIST SUFFERING FOR REDEMPTION
AND FOR THE BODY
Christ’s sufferings have accomplished two things. First, His sufferings have accomplished redemption. Without suffering, Christ could not redeem us. Second, His sufferings have also accomplished the producing and building up of the church. Thus, within His great sufferings, there is a part for redemption and a part for the producing and building up of the church. The Lord Jesus was on the cross for six hours. Strictly speaking, only the last three hours of His suffering on the cross were for redemption. During these hours, Christ became sin in the eyes of God (2 Cor. 5:21), for God gathered all of man’s sin, placed it upon Him, and condemned Him. That was the reason the Lord cried out, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" (Matt. 27:46). Before He went to the cross, the Lord Jesus said that He was not alone because the Father was with Him (John 16:32). But when He was made sin, He suffered God’s judgment and condemnation. This was Christ’s greatest suffering, and through it He accomplished redemption. It is impossible for us to share in this aspect of Christ’s sufferings. If we say that we can share in this aspect, we blaspheme. He alone suffered God’s judgment on the cross for the accomplishment of redemption.
However, Christ suffered not only for redemption, but also for the producing of the Body. In the Gospel of John Christ is described as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). But He is also presented as the grain of wheat that fell into the earth to produce many grains (John 12:24). The Lamb suffered for redemption, whereas the grain suffered for reproducing. Although we cannot share in Christ’s sufferings for redemption, we can share in His sufferings for reproducing and for building up the Body. Christ was the one grain, and we are the many grains. As the many grains, we must suffer in the same way the one grain suffered. The one grain did not complete all the sufferings that are needed for the building up of the Body. For this, there is something lacking, and the lack must be made up by you and me. There is a portion for each of us to make up.
When we put ourselves aside and remain under the cross, the power of resurrection will be our portion. Immediately opposition will rise up against us, and we shall suffer. This suffering is in the fellowship of the sufferings of Christ for the building up of the Body.
(The Experience of Christ, Chapter 16, by Witness Lee)