The Living a Life of Struggle and The Living of Grace

practicingRecently I have been reading a book entitled "The Bridge and Channel of God" by Witness Lee. The first four chapters of this book were spoken to college-age Christians in 1953. Some of these chapters consist of very practical spiritual questions and answers.

Today I'd like to write about one of the questions asked by one of the college students in the book: How do we go from a living of grace to a living of reality?

Firstly, the book clarifies that according to the truth, grace is reality: "In fact, Christ, life, grace, and reality are one." However, the author continues to expound on the two levels of the Christian living.

The first level of living being a living of self-struggle, where you use your own strength to enjoy God's grace. For instance, when someone speaks unpleasant words to you, you will patiently smile and try not to lose your temper. Seemingly this is a proper thing to do, yet it involves self-effort.

The second level of living is the living of grace, that is, the living of reality. The key to this living is spontaneity. Without struggling and striving, you would smile when someone wrongly accuses you. Without any effort, you would be able to enjoy a morning revival with the Lord before the day breaks and pray throughout the day.

For the longest time, I'd be very disappointed at myself when I felt like I was always struggling to enjoy the Lord's grace. I would question myself, "Why is it difficult to wake up in the morning? Why is it so difficult to deal with others' unpleasant words? Why is it difficult to control my reactions to things? What is wrong with me?"

Now the following revelation is truly refreshing, that we would always begin with the first level of living. A most amazing fact is implied in this quote:
"However, after frequently having this kind of struggle and exertion, you will gradually come out of this stage and enter into the stage of spontaneity. To illustrate, one who has learned to ride a bicycle knows that in the beginning he quickly learned to ride in a straight line, but he simply did not know how to make turns easily. Every turn required much effort. But after he rode the bicycle for a certain period, one day making turns became very spontaneous.

Apparently, he exerted his effort, but in reality, he rode by a spontaneous strength. Learning to apply the brakes is in the same principle. One who has learned this knows that in the beginning applying the brakes was not his spontaneous power at all, but it required that he use his own strength to struggle to learn. Gradually, as a person practices to ride a bicycle, he spontaneously rides faster and faster and more and more steadily."
It's gradual! There's a process! In a sense, we can't escape the struggles. We don't like to wake up in the morning to have time with the Lord, but we still have to force ourselves to get up. We don't like to hear the unpleasant words, but we still have to be careful not to react in an improper way. However, there must be a turning point in both our overall living and the many specific aspects of our Christian living. It's the turning from self-effort to grace, from the superficial self to the depths of God.

Then the author concludes:
"The question you should ask is: How can one come out of a life of struggle and self-effort and enter into a living of spiritual spontaneity? The answer to this question is that you need to have all your spiritual struggles interwoven with life and joined to life. Then at a certain stage you will spontaneously be joined to the automatic law of life. In Romans 8 this law is called 'the law of the Spirit of life.' "
I read and pondered this paragraph over and over again. What does that mean "to have all your spiritual struggles interwoven with life and joined to life"? I will continue this in my next post.

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