When Christ died on the cross, He paid the penalty for sin. Before the Righteous and Holy God, we are justified through Christ, legally, positionally, and eternally. Christ’s death on the cross meant that we who are separated from God can now come before Him with confidence, trusting not in our flesh, our birth, our circumstances or our works, but in Christ alone and His sacrificial atonement for us. And for that, we should be eternally grateful and thankful.
This is the basis for being a cruciform church (thanks to Lee Camp for this term in his book, Mere Discipleship). The cruciform church is a church of individuals who take up their cross daily. Worship is priority in all things, as it is first and foremost in all ministry, work, and action. In fact, a cruciform church does not act without it being an act of worship to a most Holy God.
This act of worship of the Lord is expressed in many ways. Most people think that worship means corporate worship, as in a Sunday morning gathering. Actually, it’s often more than that, it can range from an individual/personal devotional and worship time, a small group bible study, a homeless feeding, and even a planning meeting (I know, maybe I’m pushing it)- that is, if the focus is on an expression from the participant’s heart to the Lord.
A cruciform church is formed around the cross. It is a church with the cross in all its dealings. It is a people eternally forgiven, eternally saved, and eternally grateful. It is a people seeking not their own comfort, but the Great Commission. It’s a mindset and a heart-felt change: all actions are driven by a concern for the non-worshippers of God, as those in the church reach to those who do not know Christ. Evangelism, missions, discipleship, corporate worship, tithing, prayer, and other spiritual disciplines and practices mean nothing if the goal of expanding the Kingdom of Christ worshippers is not on its radar.
How does a church be more of a cruciform church? It begins with the leadership. The leaders must be sold out for Christ and His Kingdom. They must be humble in their positions of leadership, as there are no professionals in the Kingdom of Christ. They must be focused, removing distractions of “creature comforts” and self-centeredness from their thinking, centering their lives and minds on the things of the Lord through prayer and the Word. They must be biblical, pointing the congregation to the principles of the Scriptures, shepherding the flock with patience and great instruction in the full counsel of the Word. They must be slaves to righteousness, thirsting and hungering after the righteousness of God both inside and outside the walls of the church. They must be bold and courageous, seeking God’s strength in standing up to the temptations of legalism and liberalism, saving the church from wolves that creep in, and pressing the people of God toward the Kingdom work of God.
Even more, it continues with the church itself. The church must be willing to submit and to be lead, asking God to direct its paths and allowing God’s leaders to lead them in a direction that they should go. They should be willing to come, grow, serve, and share Christ daily, in every place they influence: work, home, school, and even the seemingly mundane. They must be unselfish, remembering the call to the Great Commission instead of the “Great Comfort” they so desire in their lives. They must be hungry, desiring to see another soul saved, another life changed, and another sinner repentant.
These are the components of the cruciform church- the church with the cross in all its dealings. Be the church. Expand the Kingdom. Transform lives.