A term pertinent to the Easter season is “cruciform.” Cruciform is an adjective meaning “cross-shaped.” Although cruciform is not referenced in the Bible, it is appropriately applicable when it comes to our overall commitment to Jesus Christ.
I am very thankful for those of you—-preachers, lay leaders, and church members alike—-who remain steadfastly loyal and committed to our Lord. The troublesome truth, however, is that too many associated with the church are not shaped by the spiritual virtues inherent with it.
While the Easter season ever remains a remembrance of the Lord’s crucifixion and resurrection, the season should also be approached as a spiritual confrontation for a deeper spiritual commitment. If we are to ever magnify in our lives the results of the Lord’s sacrifice, we must allow our lives to be shaped by the meaning of His cross and resurrection.
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 Him 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. Furthermore, man had embraced sin because it is his nature, as well. For this reason, God knew that freedom from sin could only be realized by way of death, and the only person who could effectively work it (in our stead) was His Son.
Of course, death is a very disturbing concern here. While death is horrifying to the minds of most, Christ allowed Him self to die for our sakes for a unique reason—-death is the only way of escape from the consequences of sin and from participation with sin.
Why is this true? Consider the fact that 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 personally collected 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. Death significantly changes things and circumstances.
Though this may sound harsh, it is this drastic extent to which God knew He had to go in order to provide for us an escape from the consequences of sin and from participation with sin. So, it was Christ who went through the severe experience of death for our sakes to break us loose from the grip of Satan. Christ went through the severe experience of death to shatter our former association with sin. Christ went through death to spiritually change circumstances for us.
Thus, when Apostle Paul wrote, “I am crucified with Christ,” it was not only a statement reflecting an understanding what Christ’s death on the Cross did for him, but it also reflected an understanding what Christ’s death expects of him, which is the necessity of living a cruciform norm. In other words, Paul understood—-as should we—-that our lives should yield to being shaped by the principles and expectations of 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 spiritual death that portrays Christ-like clarity with Biblical Christianity in which God is honored and glorified. The cruciform norm exacts of us a type of spiritual death disassociated with evil. The cruciform norm exacts of us a type of spiritual death in which self is no longer our focus. The cruciform norm exacts of us a type of spiritual death in which we understand there is more that should concern our lives than just what we see with the eye or experience in the body.
Clearly, the cruciform norm should be the standardized spiritual shape for us.
Pastor Ron Branch lives in Mason County and is pastor of Hope Baptist Church, Middleport, Ohio.