THE COMPLEXITY OF LIFE
Life is exceedingly complex. How would you define it? There are many kinds of life—vegetable, animal, human, angelic, and divine. When John said, “In Him was life” (John 1:4), what kind of life did he mean? And what is the difference between divine life and human life? When a person dies, what life dies and what life still continues?
How many lives do we Christians have? The New Testament, in Greek, uses three different words for life. The first is bios, from which we get the word biology, the study of life. Bios refers to the life in our body that the medical doctors deal with. Another word is psuche, which is the root of our word psychology. Psuche is translated soul; it refers to something other than our physical life. When a man dies, his bios dies but his psuche continues. The third word is zoe, a kind of higher life. This is the word John used when he said, “In Him was life.” By natural birth zoe was not in us; we had only bios and psuche. But John 3:16 tells us that when we believe in the Son (i.e., receive Him, take Him in), we have zoe.
Perhaps some illustrations will help us to keep these distinctions straight. When you neglect having breakfast, you feel hungry by mid-morning. Which life in you is hungry? Bios is. If you have eaten well, but you still feel hungry for some enjoyment of music or a good time, which life is hungry? In this case it is your psuche. You may come to the church meeting and have a good time singing and enjoying yourself. Afterwards, your psuche may be satisfied, yet within there may still be a sense of emptiness, or hunger. Here it is your zoe that is crying out to be fed. Why do you care only for your bios and psuche and neglect zoe?
Surely our experience confirms that we have these three lives in us.
CHRIST IN THE GOSPEL OF JOHN
Not only was life in this One who was both the Word and God (John 1:1); “the life was the light of men” (v. 4). In John 10:10 He further said, “I came that they may have life and may have it abundantly.” He called Himself “the bread of life” (6:48) and “the living bread which came down out of heaven” (6:51). How much He is—the Word, God, life, light, and the bread of life!
He is more than this. In John 15 He told His disciples that He was a vine—not a tall tree sweeping the heavens but a low, spreading vine, reaching even to the uttermost part of the earth. He is not too high for us to reach. He is low and spreading. This vine grows horizontally to reach the whole inhabited earth.
NOT A PARABLE
Some say that the picture given us in John 15 is a parable of our relationship with Christ. It is more accurate to say that this vine with its branches is a divine, spiritual fact. God the Father is a farmer tending this great vine which is growing and spreading throughout the earth. We, as the branches, are here to branch Christ. I hope your coming to the church meetings is not to have a good time; that is too low a reason. We are not here for a good time, but rather to branch Christ.
I long for us all to be in the reality of this vision. It is our background which hinders our seeing. From our Christian background, our natural background, and our national background, we have the impression that we must do this and that for God. So we think, plan, schedule, and even move across the country! Branches, though, just stay where they are and live the vine.
(Life Messages, Vol. 1 (#1-41), Chapter 13, by Witness Lee)