Friday, August 21, 2015

There Are Only Two Ways to Live a Cross-Shaped Life

DISCIPLESHIP is the name of the Christian game. Jesus said, in his last recorded commandment in the Gospel of Matthew, “Make disciples…” The word “make” is an imperative — it has the force of a command. It can be read as, “Make!”
If we are commanded as church leaders to make disciples, all Christians are commanded to be disciples. The true Christian will bow at the earliest acknowledgement to the command of their Master. Even though we live in an age where we don’t like to be told what to do, we are actually most blessed to do what Jesus tells us to do. To do what Jesus tells us to do is to be his disciple.
The simplest metaphor for discipleship is the cross; a disciple needs to live a cross-shaped life. The cross-shaped life is a well-known metaphor. As we approach the cross, we first look up, and having a vertical focus, which is to God in the heavens, we remember what he has done for us. This breeds gratitude. Then secondarily, as we arrive at the horizontal beam our Lord’s hands were nailed to, we face our relationships, horizontally, with each other, having first been oriented correctly by God’s love through gratitude, vertically.
We are ready to love. We are ready to be kind. We are ready to forgive.
We cannot love people to God’s gold standard unless God has first oriented us to his love. From my own life experience it is rare for a person to be able to love with real selflessness unless they have oriented their thinking away from themselves and onto God.
If we don’t routinely look up the vertical axis of the cross we forget what God has done for us that we could never do for ourselves. And only as we look up vertically do we see the horizontal beam as it is; truly parallel with the earth. Our humanity reminds us how similarly fallible we all are. It reminds us that grace is the truest and best perspective with which to view our fellow human beings — who are all grappling with their own issues; that they deserve compassion as we ourselves do.
First, we look up and are in awe, then we look across — to the left and to the right. We acquire the import of love. We have seen what the Lord requires of us: to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly.
There are only two ways for a Christian to live: vertically, first and foremost, and then horizontally. Vertically, our focus is on the Lord, two-thirds the way up. Only when we reach the horizontal are we correctly oriented enough on God to relate well with and truly love others.

© 2015 Steve Wickham.

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