The Cruciform Life
Mark 8:34 ¶ He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
Jesus was calling his followers to a whole new way of life, one that demanded self-sacrifice and discipline. The people of Jesus’ day knew all about Roman crucifixion and that one was required to carry their own cross to their execution. This was symbolic of their submission to the power of Rome. For someone to become a follower of Christ meant total and complete submission to the way of Jesus Christ. John Wesley said that to take up the cross was to “Embrace the will of God, however painful, daily, hourly, continually. Thus only can he follow me in holiness to glory.”
The cruciform life is one in which we are led into holiness. This is exactly what Jesus wanted his followers to understand, that he had come to provide for them a way to glory. This way to glory was one in which they would be transformed into the reflection of him. This statement is a foreshadowing of his own personal crucifixion which was yet to come. He would physically take up a cross and die for all of humanity so that we might become holy just as he is holy. It would all begin with a cruciform way of life.
How do we participate in the cruciform life? It begins by denying ourselves. This means we yield all of our personal rights as we give ourselves over wholeheartedly to Jesus Christ. It is a life of putting Christ first. What would he want me to do today? How am I spending time with him and then with the community of faith and beyond? It is submission to his power over my life in all spheres and no longer are my personal wants and desires foremost, but his life of holiness. And yes, as John Wesley said it may be painful, but it must be every hour of every day and it must be continual.
The title alone does not suppose an easy way of life. Too many are preaching a prosperity gospel and a life of ease. That’s not what the cross meant in the first century and it’s not what it means today either. Jesus is still looking for followers who will take this way of life seriously, who are willing to put him first in all things. Only in this way can we truly experience the transformational power of God’s Holy Spirit allowing us to live the cruciform life that leads us onto the path of holiness.
Lord, please help me to daily submit to you and to your kingdom. Amen.