God is waiting for you to despair…
Since we were converted a new sense of righteousness has been developed in us, with the result that we, too, are quite rightly, occupied with the question of good and evil. But have we realized that for us the starting point is a different one? Christ is for us the Tree of life. We do not begin from the matter of ethical right and wrong. We do not start from that other tree. We begin from him; and the whole question is one of Life. – Watchman Nee
Dear CRI Partner:
I’ve got a confession to make: I’m deeply concerned.
My concern regards more than the fact that a great many spiritual and social “vital signs” in the West are “headed south.”
My concern is compounded by the fact that not only are a great many Christians apparently oblivious or ostensibly impotent to do anything about these sobering trends but also that our fundamental problem may be so obvious that it eludes our detection.
Failing to rightly diagnose our condition, our response is too often a brilliant execution of a fallacious premise. Failing to discern the root cause, we desperately hack away at the branches.
Before I go on, please permit me an exceedingly brief detour…
You’ve no doubt noted that sometime back, CRI changed its tagline from “because Truth matters” to “because Life and Truth matter.”
The reason, in part, was our growing realization that, for Christians, the abundant life (John 10:10) — “the life that is truly life” (1 Tim. 6:17–19) — and truth, rightly understood, are inseparable. (It should come as no small clue that Jesus claimed to be the way, the truth, and the life. — John 14:6)
Related to this realization was a growing conviction that while “truth” could be intellectually abstracted from “life,” from an existential perspective, this is sheer folly. The two are in fact so integral that you cannot truly have one side of the coin without the other!
So, back from the detour, what’s my point?
My point, simply put, is that far too many Christians are living lives that are fundamentally and tragically “out of order.” And failing to correctly diagnose our condition, we then struggle in the flesh to do what can only come from the Spirit.
That’s why I’d like to send you Sit, Walk, Stand, a classic from Watchman Nee that provides timelessly relevant insights from his teaching on the book of Ephesians. (If you’re unfamiliar with Watchman Nee, he became a Christian at the age of 17 and ministered for nearly 30 years. In 1952 he was imprisoned in China for his faith and remained in prison until his death in 1972.)
Nee addresses these three vital — and profoundly relevant — themes of “Sit…Walk…Stand” in Ephesians by noting:
- Our position in Christ – “SIT” (2:6)
- Our Life in the World – “WALK” (4:1)
- Our Attitude to the Enemy – “STAND” (6:11)
A point not to be missed, Nee states that “we shall find it most instructive to note both the order and the connection in which they come.”
While you’ll want to read this small but insight-rich book for yourself, let me share just a few excerpts and then link them to my reason for writing:
“Sit,” says Nee, “reveals the secret of the heavenly life. Christianity does not begin with walking; it begins with sitting.”
“Most Christians make the mistake of trying to walk in order to be able to sit, but that is a reversal of the true order…But Christianity is a queer business! If at the outset we try to do anything, we get nothing; if we seek to attain something, we miss everything. For Christianity begins not with a big DO, but with a big DONE. Thus Ephesians opens with the statement that God has ‘blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ’ (1:3) and we are invited at the very outset to sit down and enjoy what God has done for us; not to set out to attain it for ourselves…It is paradoxical, but true, that we only advance in the Christian life as we learn first of all to sit down.”
Nee goes on to say,
“God is waiting for your store of strength to be utterly exhausted before he can deliver you. Once you have ceased to struggle, he will do everything. God is waiting for you to despair.”
After noting the criticality of our starting point — our position in Christ — Nee writes,
“Every time we reverse the divine order the result is disaster…Though the Christian life begins with sitting, sitting is always followed by walking. When once we have been well and truly seated and have found our strength in sitting down, then we do in fact begin to walk. Sitting describes our position with Christ in the heavenlies. Walking is the practical outworking of that heavenly position on earth.”
“Christian experience begins with sitting and leads to walking, but it does not end with these. Every Christian must learn also to stand. Each one of us must be prepared for the conflict. We must know how to sit with Christ in heavenly places and we must know how to walk worthy of him down here, but we must also know how to stand before the foe.
“But let us first remind ourselves once again of the order in which Ephesians presents us with these things. It is: ‘sit…walk…stand.’ For no Christian can hope to enter the warfare of the ages without learning first to rest in Christ and what he has done, and then, through the strength of the Holy Spirit within, to follow him in a practical, holy life here on earth. If he is deficient in either of these he will find that all the talk about spiritual warfare remains only talk; he will never know its reality. Satan can afford to ignore him for he does not count for anything.”
A quick review of these excerpts captures my contention that a reason why so many spiritual, social, and cultural indicators are tanking is that far too many of us are living lives “out of order.” In short, we’re trying to “walk” and “stand” before “sitting” — being totally grounded in our position in Christ. The predictable result is that we attempt to accomplish in our power what can only be done in His.
This brings me back to our tagline, “because Life and Truth matter.” Sure, as an equipping ministry, I want all Christians to deeply understand and be able to share biblical truth with a spiritually hungry world. But this truth will be vastly more convincing when the quality of the lives we lead makes the truth that we are sharing attractive.
Because your gift today will enable CRI to continue equipping Christians around the world to “sit…walk…and stand” for our risen Lord, I’d like to send you your copy of this timeless classic.
In the hope of hearing from you today, I’ve enclosed a reply card and envelope. Let me encourage you to take just a few seconds now to glance at the card and return it with your gift today to help strengthen and sustain CRI’s many outreaches. Just as soon as I hear from you, your copy of Sit, Walk, Stand will be on its way.
May you be blessed and strengthened through this book, and may you be encouraged by knowing that each day lives are being changed because of your partnership!
…because Life and Truth matter…