Life On the Highest Plane
Vol. 2: The Relation Between Christ and the Christian
Christ Our Life
A Perfect Oneness Effected
Christ Jesus was made like us that we might be made like Him. In the incarnation there was the union of Deity with humanity that in regeneration there might be the union of humanity with Deity. When the Holy Spirit begat in the believer a new nature He opened the door to a living, organic union between Christ and the Christian which will exist through the ages upon ages to come. Christ and the Christian are eternally one. The exalted Christ lives now to bestow upon us in all of its fullness His own triumphant, joyous, holy life.
To be a Christian is nothing less than to have the glorified Christ living in us in actual presence, possession and power. It is to have Him as the Life of our life in such a way and to such a degree that we can say even as Paul said, "To me to live is Christ." To be a Christian is to grow up into Christ in all things: it is to have that divine seed which was planted in our innermost spirit blossom out into a growing conformity to His perfect life. To be a Christian is to have Christ the life of our minds, our hearts, our wills, so that it is Christ thinking through us, loving through us, willing through us. It is increasingly to have no life but the life of Christ within us filling us with ever increasing measure.
But I can hear some modern Nicodemus say, "How can these things be?" How can I live such a life in my home where I receive no sympathy nor help but rather ridicule and scoffing, and where I have for so long lived a sinful and a defeated life? How can I live a truly consistent Christ-life in my social circle where there is scarcely a person who ever gives Him a thought and where His name is never mentioned? How can I live "in the Spirit" in a place of business where I am surrounded by those living altogether "in the flesh" and where the v ery atmosphere seems surcharged with evil? How can I even learn to live the life more abundant when my membership is in a thoroughly worldly church where little is given to feed and strengthen my spiritual life?
As we are in Christ in the heavenlies so is He in us on earth. Christ in us can live this life anywhere, and that is what He longs to do. This truth our Lord gave in germ in His last conversation with His disciples on earth. He had told them that He was going away from them and they were wondering how they could ever be true disciples apart from Him. The burden of this last conversation was to assure them He would be with them in a spiritual Presence far more real and vital than the relationship they had with Him up to that time. The same life that was in Him as the Vine would flow through them as branches.
John 15:5, "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me iestly prayer on that last night.
"I in them"these three simple but significant words close the prayer with that little inner circle in which He breathed forth the passionate desire of His heart for His own on down through the centuries. Now as well as then, it is the consuming desire of Jesus Christ to reincarnate Himself in the Christian.
The apostle Paul in the revelation given him laid hold upon this precious, glorious truth and it is woven into the warp and woof of his experience, his preaching, and his missionary service. "Christ liveth in me" was the very acme of his personal spiritual life.
"Christ liveth in me" so that "To me to live is Christ"there was nothing beyond this for Paul. Having the glorified Christ as his very life was all-inclusive in Paul's spiritual experience. This to him was life on the highest plane.
"Christ in you" was the heart of his message to the churches. It rang out with clarion clearness in all Paul's teaching and preaching. A cross section from any of Paul's epistles would reveal this truth written in capital letters.
"Christ in you" was the very passion of his missionary service. Paul might employ different methods in his service for God, he might be all things to all men, but the end, the aim, the goal of it all was just one thing with himthat Christ Jesus Himself might be formed in each one who heard the Gospel message.
To be a Christian is to accept Christ as Saviour and to crown Him as Lord. But there is one step more: it is to appropriate Him as Life. As the works within the watch are the real life of the watch so the Lord Jesus within the believer is the real life of the believer. "The Christian life is not merely a converted life nor even a consecrated life but it is a Christ-life." Christ is the Christian's center; Christ is the Christian's circumference; Christ is all in between. As Paul has put it "Christ is all and in all."
A PERFECT ONENESS EFFECTED
The spiritual history of a believer could be written in two phrases, "Ye in me" and "I in you." In God's reckoning Christ and the believer have become one in such a way that Christ is both in the heavenlies and upon earth and the believer is both on earth and in the heavenlies. The Church without Christ is a Body without a Head; Christ without the Church is a Head without a Body. The fullness of the Head is for the Body and the Body is "the fulness of him that filleth all in all."
Could God tell us more clearly that in His divine purpose He means for the fullness of Christ to be the fullness of the Christian? It is a staggering thought! Its plain import is that you and I and all other Christians are to bring Christ down from heaven to earth and to let men see even in us who He is and what He has done and what He can do in a human life. It is to have Christ's life in such a perfection of likeness that men see Him in us and are drawn to Him in faith and love. It is to be such a oneness of life that one's human personality is but a vessel in which the beauty, holiness and glory of the Lord Jesus shine forth in undimmed transparency.
But here I hear the murmur of a doubting Thomas, "Except I see this Christ-life more perfectly in my fellow Christian or experience it more fully in my own life I will not believe it is possible!" All I can say in answer to this is "I believe because I have seen." For six weeks I lived in a heaven upon earth in a Chicago boardinghouse, incredible as that may seem. It was run by a little woman who weighed about eighty-five pounds and who was kept from falling into a heap upon the floor by a brace which was worn night and day. She had lived on the third floor for two years with no outlook but the blue sky above and a patch of green grass a few feet square below. But her eyes shone like stars, upon her face was a smile that intense bodily suffering, straitened financial circumstances, few social contacts, limited opportunities for enjoyment of God's great and wonderful world, had not been able to remove, and mirrored in that face was a light that one never sees on sea or land except where the Light of the world dwells in undimmed brightness. Christ was the Life of her life.
A young Chinese man who had been a Christian less than two years came one day for a bit of Christian fellowship. From a godless life he had been very marvelously converted and transformed. Christ had in deed and truth become all and in all to him. After he left the house that day a gentleman who saw him for only a brief moment said, "Who was that young man? I never met anyone who so instantly compelled me to think of Christ as did he."
A Christian businessman lay dying of cancer in a hospital. Friends called to comfort him and they left feeling that they had not only been taken to the very door of heaven but even that they had seen the King in His beauty. Christ had been the Life of his life in health and continued to be so in sickness.
A young woman of nobility and wealth was on the road that led into worldliness and ease, when she met her Lord. Captivated by His mighty love and power, even as was the apostle of old, she too said, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" The answer was, I would go through you to carry the Gospel to China." For nearly thirty years she has been there without a furlough, working and praying through the cold of winter and the heat of summer, with only an occasional vacation of a week or two. In more than twenty places are groups of worshipers of the true God and many hundreds have been eternally blessed through that life crucified, buried, and risen with Jesus Christ. You say, "She must be old, worn and haggard." Far, far from it. In her beautiful face is all the joyous gladness of youth and yet all the wondrous peace of the twilight years of a life lived in the constant and conscious presence of the living God. Even a stranger immediately recognizes in that life something more than human; something that belongs to another world than this. Christ is the Life of her life.
A little girl of eleven years of age lay dying. She deeply and dearly loved her Lord and as He came to take her home she seemed fairly transfigured. She called father, mother, brothers and sisters to her and with the very love of Christ filling and flooding her little heart she pleaded with them to meet her in heaven. An elder sister who loved that child as she loved no one else went from that room crushed but with her heart steeled against her sister's Christ. Out into a life of reckless worldliness she went but ever haunted by the face of Christ and the voice of Christ as she had seen and heard it in her little sister. Two years passed by but the vision of His face and the sound of His voice were not dimmed and finally that cold, resisting heart was melted into such love of the Lord Jesus that she joyously accepted Him as her Saviour, and her life was marvelously transformed. Christ was the Life of that eleven-year-old child.
Is He the Life of your life? Could this be said of you?
The thought of living such a Christ-life could well make us tremble and fear did God not make it so clear that He does not expect us to live it in our own strength and power but that in the gift of the Holy Spirit He has made ample provision for our growing conformity into the image of His Son and for a continuous renewal of Christ's life within us. It is the Holy Spirit who brings the fullness of Christ's life in the heavenlies into our life on earth.