Life-Study of Colossiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
It is difficult to speak concerning Christ versus culture, for there is the danger of understanding such a word according to the natural concept. In saying that Christ is versus culture, we are not saying that we should drop our culture and then live without any culture whatever. If we try to drop our culture in this way, we shall simply develop another form of culture, a culture of dropping our culture. Without culture, people would become beasts. Those who do not have Christ certainly need to live according to culture.
Concerning this matter of the all-inclusive Christ versus culture, we need to see that according to the full revelation in the Bible God’s intention is to work Himself into His chosen people. This intention is the focal point of the divine revelation in the Scriptures. In order for God to work Himself into us, He must be triune. It is a wonderful and marvelous fact that God is triune—the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. The Father as the source is embodied in the Son, who is the very expression of the Father. When the Son comes, He always comes with the Father. This indicates that the Father cannot be separated from the Son, nor the Son from the Father. The Son is the embodiment, reality, and expression of the Father. Through the process of death and resurrection, the Son became the life-giving Spirit (1 Cor. 15:45), the Holy Spirit who gives life. Hence, the Spirit is the realization of the Son, even as the Son is the embodiment of the Father.
The Father, the Son, and the Spirit are not three Gods, but one God in His tri-unity. Because God is triune, He can dispense Himself into us. God came to us in the Son through Christ’s incarnation. Christ died on the cross to redeem us and to terminate the old creation. Then in resurrection He became the life-giving Spirit. On the one hand, Christ is sitting on the throne in the heavens as the Head and Lord of all. On the other hand, as the Spirit He dwells within us to be our life. As the life-giving Spirit, Christ is our life supply, and He is to us the reality of every positive thing.
As the all-inclusive Spirit, the Triune God is working Himself into our being. The deepest part of our being is the spirit, which is surrounded by the soul and the body. Man’s physical body contains the soul, and the soul contains the spirit, which is a vessel to receive God and contain Him. Christ as the processed, all-inclusive life-giving Spirit is in our spirit, seeking to spread Himself into all the parts of our soul and eventually to saturate our bodies to make us absolutely the same as He is. When this takes place, our whole being will be permeated with Himself. This is God’s salvation according to His economy.
Many things hinder the accomplishment of God’s full salvation. Two of the more obvious hindrances are sin and worldliness. The most subtle hindrance, however, is culture. Culture frustrates God’s chosen people from experiencing Christ and enjoying Him. The all-inclusive Christ is versus culture. However, we are not saying that we should drop our culture and act like barbarians. We are by no means encouraging anyone to act as if we are free of culture. Those who do not have Christ certainly need culture. As children are growing up, they need not only culture, but also the law. But after we have received Christ, we should not allow our culture to limit Christ or to frustrate us from experiencing Him. Prior to receiving Christ, all people need culture. But after receiving Christ, we should live according to Christ, not according to culture. Do not think that culture is unnecessary. Culture preserves, regulates, and improves people. But after Christ has come into us, in our experience we should begin to live by Christ. The problem is that Christ is limited by our culture.
We have seen that God’s intention is to work Christ into His chosen people. God uses culture to preserve people until they receive Christ. Before children receive Christ, they must be trained according to culture and under the law. Never tell little children that they have no need for culture. On the contrary, teach them to honor their parents, to love others, and to share their possessions with others. Eventually, when they attain to a certain maturity, they will decide to receive Christ into them. Then we need to help them grow into Christ and with Christ. Gradually we can help them turn from culture to Christ. Eventually, instead of living according to culture, they will live according to Christ. Young people, do not proclaim that you have dropped your culture. Instead, testify to others that you have received Christ and that now you are living Christ, growing Christ, and producing Christ.
In his subtlety Satan will use good things, even things given by God, to keep us from experiencing Christ. Even the Bible has been used by Satan to frustrate people from the enjoyment of Christ. However, nothing keeps people from Christ more than culture. Culture is a frustration especially to those Christians who truly love the Lord. In fact, the more we love Him, the more culture will hinder us from experiencing Him.
Let us consider as an illustration the case of Peter. Although Peter was a fisherman, he was familiar with Jewish theology. One day, Peter received the inspiration to say that the Lord Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God. The Lord replied that Peter received this revelation from the Father in heaven. Then He went on to speak about the building up of the church and about the cross (Matt. 16:18, 24). In the book of Acts we see that Peter was used by the Lord to establish the first local church, the church in Jerusalem. Although Peter was used by the Lord in this way, he was still limited by his Jewish culture. This is proved by Peter’s experience in Acts 10. As Peter was praying, his experience of the Spirit was limited by his cultural concepts concerning Gentiles. Peter thought that the enjoyment of Christ was limited to Jews. As a typical Jew, he thought of the Gentiles, the heathen, as swine. His attitude toward them was a product of Jewish culture. Although Peter was one with the Lord, his experience of Christ was confined by culture. Then in Acts 10 Peter saw a vision of a great sheet “wherein were all manner of four-footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air” (v. 12). When a voice said to him, “Rise, Peter; kill, and eat,” Peter answered, “Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean” (vv. 13-14). This vision came to Peter three times. As Peter was considering what this vision might mean, some Gentiles arrived at the place where he was staying and asked about him. God’s intention was to expand the enjoyment of Christ to include the Gentiles. For this enlargement of the experience of Christ, there was the need for Peter to lay aside his cultural background.
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