The crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus wasn’t a mere speed bump in days gone by, rather it was the triumphant turning point in history. A library of words cannot articulate the change this one event has made: sins were atoned for and forgiven, the power of sin has been defeated, death lost its sting, hope secured, heaven made available, intimacy with God possible, and a life indwelt by the Holy Spirit has become the norm. All because of the Cross.
And while the death of Jesus upon the cross was a moment in time on a particular day, the attitude and lifestyle of the Cross is one which Jesus lived every day.
The Cross of Christ
It should have been no surprise to the disciples that Jesus was heading to the cross. Countless times He declared Himself the suffering Messiah which was headed to Jerusalem to be handed over.
Even in his language with the disciples, Jesus said things like:
- “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me” (Mark 10.21).
- And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. (Matthew 10.38)
- “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. (Matthew 16.24)
But perhaps even more important, Jesus lived the lifestyle of the Cross.
The Lifestyle of the Cross
When you look at the life of Jesus, you find that He never once thought about Himself. You might be able to argue that in Gethsemane Jesus was focused inward, but even there you find He was still focused on bringing salvation to the world.
The life Jesus lived was constantly focused on others. He was continually meeting the needs around Him. Even His prayer times alone on the mountains were for the purpose of being poured out in ministry.
Jesus never focused inward, He never reasoned from the basis of how it might affect Him, instead Jesus was constantly rolling up His sleeves, washing feet, bleeding, suffering, dying, and meeting the needs of the people around Him. In essence, what the Cross symbolized, He lived every day.
When Jesus declared “take no thought for your life” in Matthew 6.25 and Luke 12.22, it wasn’t a cute phrase to stick on your refrigerator, but rather the life we are called to live.
In Philippians 2, Paul makes the statement: “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus …” (Philippians 2:3-5).
We are to have the mind of Christ (which in Greek means more than a brain but the attitude, lifestyle, essence of how one lives, the make-up of someone). I am to have the lifestyle of Jesus.
What was His lifestyle, His mind, His attitude?
It was one of the Cross. Paul goes on in verses 6-8 and says that Jesus “who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”
Jesus is God Himself and yet He made Himself of no reputation, taking upon Himself that life of a servant, coming as a man, living a life of humility and obedience, even to the point of the cross. Jesus lived a lifestyle of the Cross.
Yes the Cross was an event that took place one day in history, but the tone and lifestyle of Jesus was a demonstration of the Cross: bleeding, suffering, dying, meeting the needs of the world.
This ties you back to what Paul said in Philippians 2.3-4 right before he commands us to have the mind of Christ. Paul says, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”
What is this? It’s the lifestyle of the Cross.
I am called to the Cross
I am called to take up my cross and follow Christ. What does this look like practically?
It doesn’t mean we are to wear cross necklaces and earrings, post them on our churches, and carry a small one in our pocket (though these are all fine things to do). Jesus was emphasizing the essence of the Cross, which He demonstrated practically every day He lived.
- Do you want to know what the lifestyle of the Cross looks like lived out on your streets? Look at the life of Jesus.
- Do you want to see how someone who never thinks about himself can live and function? Look at Jesus.
- Do you want to see if selfless living is even possible and what it looks like? See Jesus throughout Scripture.
Do I live for myself or do I live for others? When a problem arrises, is my first thought how it affects me or how I can serve and meet a need? Do I run toward comfort and ease or do I seek the low places and desire to pour out my life? I am willing to be a vessel (tool) in the hand of God for Him to win my world or do I prefer to checkin at the church once a week?
These are all questions that get at our selfishness. But we are not called to live for ourselves, we are called to live for others. We are not to turn within, we are to turn outward.
I am called to the Cross – I am to find my salvation, forgiveness, and life in the death of Jesus. His death has become my death. His cross is my cross. Romans is replete with this idea.
But I am also called to the cross because that was the lifestyle of Jesus. If I find myself IN Him, then His life must become mine. I am to have His attitude and lifestyle – which was of the Cross.
I am called to the Cross because my Savior lived the life of the Cross.
Living the Cross
How is such a life even possible?
In truth: it’s not … if its done in your own strength and ability. This is an impossible standard for us to live.
- Never think about myself.
- Constantly pour my life out for the people around me.
- Bleed, suffer, and die for my world.
- Roll up my sleeves and meet needs.
- Impossible … without Jesus.
The Christian life is not meant to be lived in my own resource, strength, and ability. One of the great purposes for the death and resurrection of Jesus is to create the avenue for the Holy Spirit to have access to indwell my life. What took place at Pentecost (the Holy Spirit coming to live in and resource my life) is how I am to daily function. I don’t live life on my own but in the power and ability of the Spirit of God.
It is this sourcing of God’s Spirit which enables me to live an impossible life. He produces the lifestyle of the Cross within me.
The Cross is not something I discipline myself in, but rather is the fruit – the evidence and outflow – of a life that is indwelt and sourced by the Holy Spirit.
My friend Stephen Manley once said:
“If we produce a Christianity which is a product of our own discipline and action, we have not produced Christianity but a religion. Through the indwelling of the Spirit of Christ, He will live His life through us. The wonder of Christianity is the outside God who has come to be inside our personal lives. He is sourcing us which enables us to live far beyond ourselves. This intimate relationship with the indwelling Christ is the heart of [Christianity].”
We are called to the Cross – not just for salvation but for how we are to live every moment of every day. The lifestyle of the Cross – the Cross Style – is to become my lifestyle.
Have thoughts you want to share about the concept of the lifestyle of the cross?
Join the conversation on deeperChristian’s Google+