A term significant for the Christian church is “cruciform.” It is an adjective meaning “cross-shaped.” Although not a Bible word as such, it is critically applicable when it comes to our overall commitment to Christ.
I thank God for those of you — preachers, lay leaders, and church members alike — who remain steadfastly loyal and committed to Jesus Christ. The heartrending reality, however, is that too many professing Christianity are not shaped by the spiritual virtues inherent with it.
While the Christian religion ever remains a remembrance of the Lord’s Crucifixion, it more importantly is a confrontation to commitment. If we are to ever magnify in our lives the efficacy of the Lord’s sacrifice, we must allow our lives to be shaped by the meaning of His Cross.
To adequately understand the ramifications of what the norm of cruciform implies, we have to begin with a consideration why it was that Jesus Christ allowed His own self to be physically conformed to the Cross.
The crucifixion of Christ was divinely reasoned because of the unfortunate reality of sin. While it is true that Satan initiated sin, it is equally true that man has embraced sin by choice and has been consequently ingrained with sin by nature. God, because of His love, mercy, and grace directed toward man, purposed that Christ be put to death.
Death is a very enigmatic consideration here. While death is horrifying to the minds of most, Christ nonetheless used His own death for our sake for a profoundly unique reason — death is the only way of escape from the consequence of sin and participation with sin.
In its essential effect, death forever severs former ties, connections and obligations. A person who has died is cut off from everything to which they were formerly associated. There is no debt that can be collected personally from a person who has died. There is no relationship that can be sustained with a person who has died. There is no activity that can continue with a person who has died. Death is a severe point of departure for a person.
Though this may sound harsh, it is this divinely drastic and exact extent to which God had to go in order to provide for us an escape from the consequences of and participation with sin. Christ went through the severe experience of death for our sake to break us loose from the grip of Satan. He went through the severe experience of death to shatter our former association with sin.
Thus, when Paul said, “I am crucified with Christ,” he is not only expressing an understanding what Christ’s death on the Cross did for him, but what Christ’s death on the Cross expects of him, which implies the necessity of a cruciform norm. In other words, Paul understood, as we should, that our lives must yield to being shaped by the Cross.
There has to be such distinction when it comes to cruciform commitment to Christ. The cruciform norm exacts of us a type of Bible-based death that portrays a Christ-like clarity of Biblical Christianity in which God is honored and glorified. The cruciform norm exacts of us a type of Bible-based death disassociated with evil. The cruciform norm exacts of us a type of Bible-based death in which self is no longer our focus. The cruciform norm exacts of us a type of Bible-based death in which we understand that there is more that concerns our life than just what we see with the eye or experience in the body.
A certain preacher once wrote, “When I think about just giving up and living my life in selfish ways, there is something about remembering how that Man died on the Cross for me pulls me back where I need to be with God.” The same realization should be in front of all who associate with the Church.
The Rev. Ron Branch is pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Mason, W.Va.