The Experience of Christby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
At this point we can make a distinction between the experience of Christ and the enjoyment of Christ. The experience of Christ is a matter primarily in our spirit, but the enjoyment of Christ is in our soul. To experience Christ is one thing, and to enjoy Christ is another. Consider the example of eating food. It is one thing to eat food and another thing to enjoy it. Sometimes parents force their children to eat certain foods. Although the children may eat out of the fear of being disciplined, they do not enjoy the food they are eating. Rather, they suffer as they eat. Sometimes we experience Christ not in the way of enjoyment but in the way of suffering. We may say, “I must take Christ as my life and live by Him. I have to experience Christ.” But this is not the enjoyment of Christ. Like children who eat without enjoying their food, many times we experience Christ without enjoying Him. Instead of enjoying Christ, we suffer. Thus, we can have the experience of Christ without the enjoyment of Christ. The problem here is with our soul.
Before we consider this matter further, let us consider the background of the book of Philippians. No doubt, the saints in Philippi were very good. They were zealous for the gospel, and they were very much for the Lord. In chapter 4 we see that they cared for the needs of the apostle Paul a number of times. To take care of the needs of the Lord’s servant is very significant. If you are not truly for the Lord, you will not take care of the needs of His servant. Taking care of the needs of the Lord’s servant is a strong proof and sign that you are for the Lord. Although the Philippians were zealous for the gospel, were for the Lord, and took care of the apostle’s need, they still had a problem regarding oneness. Instead of being one, they were quite opinionated. The sisters especially had a problem with opinions. This is the reason Paul says, “I exhort Euodias, and I exhort Syntyche, to think the same thing in the Lord” (v. 2). Euodias and Syntyche, two of the leading sisters, were not one. In most churches the discord occurs mainly among the sisters. If there had not been so many opinions among the Philippians, the apostle Paul would not have repeatedly told them to think the same thing (2:2; 4:2). According to the Greek, Philippians 2:5 should be rendered, “Think this among you which was also in Christ Jesus.” This means that in our thinking we need to be one with Christ. It is not simply a matter of the mind but of the working of the mind, the process of thinking. The saints in Philippi were good, honest, and faithful, but they were too opinionated. Because of this, they did not have the adequate enjoyment of Christ. When we read this book carefully, we see that this was the situation among them.
Strictly speaking, Philippians is a book not only on the experience of Christ but also on the enjoyment of Christ. In Philippians 3:8 Paul says that for the sake of Christ he counted all things as refuse. This is not only a matter of experience but also a matter of enjoyment. The excellency of the knowledge of Christ (v. 8) also indicates enjoyment. Excellency is not mainly for experience but for enjoyment. In chapter 3 Paul seemed to be saying, “Formerly, I, Saul of Tarsus, enjoyed my status. I was a Hebrew of the Hebrews and a Pharisee. But now I count all things loss for Christ.” The refuse, the dog food, mentioned in verse 8, indicates no enjoyment. No human being can have enjoyment from dog food. Therefore, the book of Philippians is concerned not only with the experience of Christ but also with the enjoyment of Christ. With the enjoyment of Christ there is a pleasant taste.
Although the Philippians were good, they had lost their enjoyment of Christ. They may have had a proper spirit, but there was a problem in their soul. They might have been one in spirit, but they were definitely not one in soul. This is the background of this Epistle.
Every Epistle in the New Testament was written for a particular reason. The reason for writing the Epistle to the Philippians was that, although they were for the Lord and cared for His servant and were very good in their spirit, they had a problem in their soul because they did not think the same thing. In their thinking they had a problem. Hence, Paul wrote this Epistle to advise them and even to beg them to be one in soul.
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