TASTERS OF CHRIST
The tenth aspect of a person living in the spirit is that he is a taster of Christ. If we are going to love the church, we have to experience Christ. We have to be the tasters of Christ. Then we will have something of Christ to minister to the church which we love. In 2 Corinthians there is the aspect of loving the church and even more the aspect of tasting Christ, enjoying Christ, experiencing Christ. Paul received many visions and revelations; he tells us that he was “caught away to the third heaven” (12:2) and that he was “caught away into Paradise” (v. 4). As a man living on earth, the apostle knew the things of the earth. But men do not know the things either in the heavens or in Paradise, the pleasant part of Hades (Luke 23:43; 16:23, 25). However, the apostle was caught away to both of these unknown places. Hence, he received visions and revelations of these hidden regions. For this reason he mentions these two uttermost parts of the universe.
These visions and revelations, however, did not qualify Paul to be a lover of the church. It is not the visions and revelations that qualify us to be a lover of the church, but the experience, the tasting, the enjoyment, of Christ. After he had received the visions and revelations, Paul said, “Because of the transcendence of the revelations, in order that I might not be exceedingly lifted up, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, that he might buffet me, in order that I might not be exceedingly lifted up” (2 Cor. 12:7). Paul asked the Lord three times to take away the thorn in his flesh. The Lord would not take the thorn away, however, in order that Paul might taste, or enjoy, Him as grace and experience His power. The Lord’s reply to Paul was, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness” (v. 9). This was not a vision or a revelation but experience.
Today what the Body of Christ needs is not a group of people who merely have the visions and the revelations, but who have the practical experience of Christ. The Body needs those who enjoy Christ, who taste Christ, in a very experiential way. It is through this experience that we have something of Christ practically to minister to His Body. Revelations and visions alone will not work. The apostle Paul had the visions, yet he had to be put “into the oven.” If you say that you have the visions and the revelations, be prepared to be put into the oven. Sufferings and trials are often in the Lord’s ordination for us, that we may experience Christ as grace and power. The Lord allows a thorn to come upon us so that we may experience the power of Christ in our weakness.
Today the church needs a group of brothers and sisters who are under the pressure, the thorn, to experience Christ in a practical way. We need to experience Him as the all-sufficient grace meeting our need in every kind of environment, and we need to taste Him, experiencing His power being perfected in our weakness. To magnify the sufficiency of the Lord’s grace, our sufferings are required; to show forth the perfectness of the Lord’s power, our weakness is needed. It is through our experience of Christ as grace and power that we will have something real of Christ to minister to His Body, which we love. If we are lovers of the church, we have to be the tasters of Christ. Otherwise, we will have nothing to minister to the church. What we have to minister to the church is only the very Christ whom we have enjoyed, whom we have experienced. We need the practical experience of Christ in the midst of our suffering. The ministry is constituted with, and produced and formed by, the experiences of the riches of Christ through sufferings, consuming pressures, and the killing work of the cross.
(Autobiography of a Person in the Spirit, An, Chapter 8, by Witness Lee)