TWO KINDS OF SUFFERINGS
At this point we need to differentiate between two kinds of sufferings, the sufferings of Christ and the sufferings that come from our mistakes. Do not think that all the sufferings you undergo are for the building up of the Body. For example, you may suffer because you make a mistake in driving. Perhaps you make a wrong turn and go several miles out of the way, and this causes you to suffer. This suffering, however, is the result of a mistake or carelessness; it is not the suffering of Christ for the producing of the Body. Likewise, if you make an error in your financial records and find yourself several hundred dollars in debt, that is also the suffering caused by error, not the suffering Christ. However, suppose on your job you enjoy the power of Christ’s resurrection. Because of this certain of your superiors oppose you, either passing you up for a promotion or causing you to be dismissed from your job. This suffering may be counted as the suffering of Christ for the producing and building up of the Body. Thus, one category of suffering is due to our mistakes and wrongdoings, and the other results from our testimony.
When we set ourselves aside and experience the power of resurrection, our testimony will be very strong. This will arouse the opposition of the enemy, and we shall suffer. This kind of suffering is the suffering of Christ. We all need to know the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings, the sufferings that make up what is lacking of Christ’s sufferings for the building up of the Body. This should be not merely doctrine, but an experience in which we enjoy Christ.
CHRIST LIVING HIS LIFE IN US
The Gospels reveal that the Lord Jesus was always suffering opposition. In suffering opposition, we experience Christ and enjoy Christ. By experiencing and enjoying Him in this way, we come to know Him experientially. The more we pass through death, the more Christ’s resurrection power becomes our enjoyment; and the more we have the enjoyment of resurrection power, the more we know Christ by our experience. In other words, the very Christ whose life is recorded in the four Gospels lives His life again in us and in the same way. Therefore, we know Him, the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings. The Christ revealed in the Gospels becomes our experience, and we follow in His footsteps as He repeats His life in us. Because He repeats His life in us, we become one with Him in His steps. We follow Him by enjoying Him and by being one with Him. This means that we even follow Him in His suffering life. How wonderful this is! If you read the book of Acts again, you will see that Peter, James, John, Paul, and all the apostles were such people. The Christ revealed in the Gospels was lived out again in Acts. In the Gospels, Christ lived out Himself in Jesus; in Acts, He lived out Himself in the apostles; and now He intends to live out Himself in us.
KNOWING CHRIST EXPERIENTIALLY
We should know Christ not only by revelation, thus having the excellency of the knowledge of Christ. We need to know Him also by enjoying Him, by experiencing Him, by being one with Him, and by having Him live within us and walk with us. In this way we know Him not merely in an objective way, but much more in a subjective way. Thus, we know Him both by revelation and by experience. Eventually, He becomes us and we become Him. This enables us to say with Paul, "To me to live is Christ" (Phil. 1:21). We shall also be able to say that Christ is being magnified in us. This is the book of Philippians. This book reveals how to know Christ in an experiential way. It tells how to know Him, the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings. As we know Him in this way, we can say, "Christ is being magnified in me. For to me to live is Christ." Then we shall go on to say, "Oh, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him!" Eventually, as we shall see in a forthcoming message, we shall be able to say, "I can do all things in Him who empowers me" (Phil. 4:13, Gk.).
(The Experience of Christ, Chapter 16, by Witness Lee)