What It Means To Be A Christian # 10
The Fullness of Christ
But what does that mean? What is the "fullness of Christ?" Well, what is the beginning - the simple, elementary nature of Christ, into which we come at the beginning? When we come into Christ, we say we have come into life, we have found life in Christ. The great secret of the first experience is that we have received "the gift of God," which is "eternal life." And, what is more, we know it. There is no doubt about it - we know that life has been given to us.
Then at the beginning we speak of having received our sight, or of having come into the light. Although we may not be able to define or explain it, everything has become illumined to us, has become altogether new as another world. We know our eyes have been opened. We have come to see; light has broken upon us. We are able to say: "Whereas I was blind, now I see." "I was in the dark - now it is all light.' Put it how you will, the beginning of the Christian life is just that.
Life, light - and then "liberty." One of the great things of the beginning of the Christian life is a wonderful sense of release, of emancipation, of having been set free. It would need a chapter all to itself, this liberty into which Christ brings us, this wonderful setting free. It is a very great reality.
Lastly, when we come into Christ, we come into 'love', Divine love, and Divine love comes into our hearts.
These are four of the things into which in an elementary form, we come, and which come into us, right at the beginning. Of course, there is much more than could be said, and there are many other things, but that is enough to provide for the answer to our inquiry. Let us run over them once again.
First of all, "Life" - a new life and a different life. I do not mean now the way we live - that follows, of course - but a new dynamic power in us, which is Divine life. It is a new life, another one altogether, and that life has in it another nature. It belongs to another realm, and has the nature of that other realm. It is the realm of God Himself. I do not mean, of course, that we are now at this point altogether other creatures; but this is the beginning. We are conscious that there is a new nature at work within us, working for certain things and against certain other things - which is something that was never true of us before.
Yes, we have a new and different life - an "energy." Life is an energy, is it not? See what life will do. Life really demands difficulty to prove its energy. I remember, some years ago, going down into Cornwall and staying on a farm. This farm had fields on a slope, and one of the fields was just strewn all over with large, white stones. It was the time of the year when seed was in, and nothing was appearing. I said to the farmer, 'Surely you will never get a crop of wheat in that field with all those stones!' 'Don't you make any mistake,' he replied. 'I thought that when I first came to this farm, so I cleared them off, and got a very poor crop. So I put them back again, and I got a very much better crop with the stones - much stronger and healthier than I had before.' Life, you see, proves itself by difficulties and opposition. Here is a new life-force, an energy of a different kind, of another kingdom, that is given to us in our new birth. It is different.
"Life" - a new intelligence, a new understanding, a new clearness about things. Everybody who has had a genuine Christian experience knows that. They see what they could never see before. Up till then, they may have been striving and struggling to see. But now they see, and it is another world that is open before them, just as a new world is given to any person who has been born blind and at some time receives their sight. They are given a world. They have heard about it, talked about it, had it explained to them, but they have never before been able to say, 'Now I see!'
"Liberty" - release - and with the release enlargement. What a large thing the Christian life is! There is something wrong with a Christian life that is small, mean, limited, petty and narrow. The Christian life is a large thing; it is a "land of far distances." With every enlargement, there comes a new inward sense of prospect. Things are ever and ever beyond. The further you go in the Christian life, the more conscious you are of how much more there is. You never exhaust this wonderful sense of prospect and future, of a vast, wide-open door.
"Love" - a new motive power in the life, in the heart. The hallmark of a true Christian life at its very beginning is love. It shows itself in an instantaneous desire to let someone else know all about it, to share the good things into which we have come. It is a great heart overflow to all the world. And it is in its character a selfless love. "Self" goes out. You do anything, you make any sacrifice, you never consider yourself; this "love of Christ constraineth", in a great care for the things of others, a deep, warm devotion to their interests. It is a new love. We cannot enlarge upon each of these - least of all, perhaps, upon this wonderful love of God which is shed abroad in our hearts - but you see that these four things alone are there, in an elementary form, right at the beginning.
Christ Filling All Things
What, then, is the fullness of Christ? It is simply the continuous enlargement and ultimate finality of these very things. The continuous growth of life - the freshness, the dynamic force of God within the life - this motive power - this Divine nature, which is in His life - should never, never come to a standstill. It is intended, according to the eternal purpose, to grow and grow and grow more and more. More life! Let us take this earnestly to heart. To receive eternal life may be a gift once and for all, but if you are at the beginning you have yet to discover how wonderfully full that life is, and how that life can become more and more abundant as you go on. The longer we as Christians live, the more should we be characterized by this mighty life of Christ - "the power of His resurrection," it is called. And the fullness of Christ is the progressive enlargement and development and sum of those very things which came to us, and into which we came, at the beginning;and if we attain unto fullness - which we shall never do here in this life; but we shall ultimately move right into the fullness - it will be the universality of all those things.
Now you can see how vast Christ is, and how vast the Christian life must be. The Scripture speaks of Christ 'filling all things' - "that He might fill all things" (Eph. 4:10). How is Christ going to 'fill all things?' It just means that, when that comes about all things - and it is a vast, an infinite "all" - will be full of His life, full of His light, full of His liberty, full of His love, and there will be nothing else! All that Christ is will be expressed in the whole creation. That is the purpose of the Christian life, and we have failed of the purpose if that is not true, in a progressive way, now. If it is not true that those things are increasing in us, we have missed the very object of the Christian life. Yes, if there is not more love, and still more love, and yet again more love, and life, and light, and liberty - the very purpose of the Christian life has been missed.
(continued with # 11)