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?