The Cross Of Jesus

The pinnacle of the Christian faith is undoubtedly found in the Cross of Jesus. No matter what tradition you glean from we (Christians) have always seen the cross to represent the climax of history for all humanity. Commonly, in response many Christians are filled with a sense of gratitude for the great sacrifice done our behalf.

I think that response is an appropriate one, but is that really all that we are supposed to do in response to the cross. Or is there a deeper more essential response that we have neglected in the latter end of Christian history when gleaning from that old rugged cross. Consider Philippians 2:5-8…

“In your relationships with one another, have the same attitude of mind Christ Jesus had:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a human being, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!”

It seems as though the cross of Jesus for Paul was not only something to be grateful for, but also something to be mimicked. Paul takes a very hard look at the sacrifice, service, and suffering Jesus took on, and tells us to have that same mind that Christ did… interesting. In fact in verse 3 and 4 he explains what that looks like for us…

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

That is a life shaped by the Cross of Jesus rather than one that is only grateful for the Cross of Jesus. Of course, this is not the only place we see this application of the cross in the Bible. When we look at 1 John 3:16-18, we see an expectation of us to imitate Jesus cross in our daily lives again. Except in this case, we see a more specific example of what it looks like. Check it out…

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for one another. If any one of you has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in you? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”

As I understand it here, love is to have our lives shaped by the Cross of Jesus, in which we lay down our lives for others. Probably the best example of this lived out in America would have to be Martin Luther King, Jr., who not only literally gave his life to better the society he lived in, but he was shaped by the cross during his life as well, as he gave tirelessly of himself by putting others welfare before his own.

So we must look inward and ask, am I only grateful for the Cross, as though it is something only done for me, or am I in response also shaped by the cross, bearing it for the benefit of others as well? Freestyle with me… Is your life shaped and conformed by the Cross? What are the obstacles?

Published by Drew G. I. Hart, PhD

Drew G. I. Hart is a theology professor in the Biblical & Religious Studies department at Messiah College with ten years of pastoral experience. Hart majored in Biblical Studies at Messiah College as an undergraduate student, he attained his M.Div. with an urban concentration from Missio Seminary in Philadelphia, and he received his Ph.D. in theology and ethics from Lutheran Theological Seminary-Philadelphia. Drew was born and raised in Norristown, Pa and has lived extensively in Philadelphia and Harrisburg, PA as well. Dr. Hart’s dissertation research explored how Christian discipleship, as framed by Black theologies and contemporary Anabaptist theologies, gesture the Church towards untangling the forces of white supremacy and the inertia of western Christendom which have plagued its witness in society for too long. As two traditions that emerged from the underside of violent and oppressive western Christian societies, he found Black theology and Anabaptism each repeatedly turning to the particularity of Jesus in the gospel narratives. From that arises an ethic of solidarity with the oppressed and pursuing liberation in Black theology and an ethic of radical peacemaking and ecclesial nonconformity in the Anabaptist tradition. Each challenge the violent and oppressive logics of mainstream western Christianity and salvage the call to follow the way of Christ. Together in dialogue they deepen our analysis of the churches failures and the need for Jesus-shaped repentance. His work beyond teaching and writing has included pastoring in Harrisburg and Philadelphia, working for an inner-city afterschool program for black and brown middle school boys, delivering lectures and leading anti-racism workshops, collaborating with local faith-based organizers and activists in his city, and doing a broad range of public theology. He is also a co-leader for a local Harrisburg faith-based relational network called FREE Together which has collaborated with POWER Interfaith, MILPA, the Shut Down Berks Detention Center movement, and a little with the Poor People’s Campaign. Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism by Drew Hart, has received great reviews by Publisher’s Weekly and Englewood Review of Books. Endorsing this resource, Shane Claiborne said, “This book is a gift from the heart of one of the sharpest young theologians in the United States. Hold it carefully, and allow it to transform you--and our blood-stained streets.” As a text, Trouble I’ve Seen utilizes personal and everyday stories, Jesus-shaped theological ethics, and anti-racism frameworks to transform the church’s understanding and social witness. Trouble I’ve Seen focuses on white supremacy as an overarching framework for understanding racism, with careful attention to its systemic and socializing dimensions. However, unlike sociology textbooks on the subject Dr. Hart also considers the subversive vocation of Jesus and the nonviolent yet revolutionary implications his life ought to have for his followers today. His newest book project is entitled Who Will Be a Witness?: Igniting Activism for God’s Justice, Love, and Deliverance and will be published September 1, 2020. Who Will Be A Witness? invites the church to liberate its centuries long captivity to supremacist practices, and to expand its restricted political imagination in view of Jesus’ messianic reign. The book guides disciples of Jesus into joining God’s delivering presence through scriptural reasoning, historical reflection, practical theology for congregational life, social change theory, and the Christian call to love our neighbor. It is written for congregations, leaders, and students that understand that pursuing God’s justice goes way beyond waiting around for electoral seasons to come around. It is about the ongoing vocation of the Church right now, at the grassroots level, seeking after the wellbeing of their neighbors through faithful, strategic, and concrete action. Drew recently joined the Inverse Podcast team serving as a cohost along with Australian peace activist Jarrod Mckenna. Together they interview interesting people and explore how scripture can turn our ethical imagination and the violent and unjust systems of our world upside-down, which contrasts with interpreting the Bible as a tool for the status quo. Dr. Drew Hart was the recipient of bcmPEACE’s 2017 Peacemaker Award, a 2019 W.E.B. Dubois Award from a Disciples of Christ congregation, and in October 2019, Dr. Hart was chosen as Elizabethtown College’s 2019 Peace Fellow. Each award recognized him for his local and national justice work and public theology. You can find Drew Hart on Twitter and Facebook, or you can catch him as he travels and speaks regularly across the country to colleges, conferences, and churches. Drew and Renee, and their three boys (Micah, Dietrich, and Vincent) live in Harrisburg, PA and attend Harrisburg First Church of the Brethren.

2 thoughts on “The Cross Of Jesus

  1. I would agree with all but MLK being the best example. I think you have some in your own family line who were just as fine if not more so.

  2. Well, I definitely have a family history that I am very proud of… but I am not sure I can fairly put anyone ahead of Dr. King. Though, it can be easy sometimes to miss those all around us who daily make sacrifices, I don’t want to belittle those who practically and regularly put others welfare before their own.

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