The Essence of Cruciform Discipleship

One of my favorite summary statements of what it means to live as a disciple of Jesus is in 1 John 4:19 . . .

“We love because He first loved us.”

God made the first move to love us by moving toward us in Jesus. That love moves us to vertical love for Him and horizontal love for others. The cross-shaped love of Jesus creates in us a cross-shaped love that reaches up to God, reaches around to our brothers and sisters in Christ, and reaches out to our neighbors, the nations, and the next generation.

The Apostle Paul put it another way in Galatians 5:6 . . .

“The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself in love.”

FAITH . . . resting in, responding to, and relying upon Jesus, the One who loves me and gave Himself for me (Galatians 2:20) . . . will (it has to!) express itself in love from me for God and for others.

Now, put the two verses together: “Faith in God’s first loving us will express itself in our loving Him and others.”

I like to think of it this way, “When by faith I fill up on God’s love for me in Jesus, I will overflow with a Jesus-like love back to God and out to people in the places He’s put me.”

This is the essence of cruciform discipleship: I am crucified and cruciform with Christ. The life I now live of lovingly giving myself for God and others, I live by resting in, responding to, and relying upon the love of Jesus, who loved me first by giving Himself for me (Galatians 2:20, 5:6; 1 John 4:19).

Submission To Jesus

“As we submit to the claims of Christ and the demands of the Gospel, we receive Jesus by grace through faith. He comes into our lives in the Person of the Holy Spirit, plants a flag on the beach of our souls, and radios back to heaven that we now belong to our rightful Father, and no longer to the father of lies.

Following Jesus means submitting to Him in every area of our lives. We may not pick and choose with Jesus. He is not Someone for merely a part of our lives, at our beck and call whenever we like; He is Lord of all, and that means Lord of all our lives, every moment, every situation, for our good and His glory . . .

. . . We do not claim Jesus, or possess Him. Quite the opposite, in fact.”

T. M. Moore

The Waiting Room

“So Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” (Hebrews 9:28, ESV)

“It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” (Isaiah 25:9, ESV)

“I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” (Psalm 27:13–14, ESV)

I hate to wait. Patience is not one of my virtues. Perhaps that’fashion-person-woman-hands why the Lord continues to leave me in the waiting room. He intends to bring me to a healthy dependence on Him. He’s hooked up my heart to a slow-dripping dose of unfulfilled longings. I’m afraid the late Manfred George Gutzke got it right, “In order to be long-suffering, you must first be long-bothered.” In order to become patient, I must first be one.

Recently, the Lord has used His Word as an X-ray to expose my broken longings, so that He might reset them. I’ve been self-medicating on the wrong hope; a hope for circumstances I believe would suit me better, soothe my soul, and stimulate new growth. But these verses set the sights of my heart on a vision of health worthier of my waiting.

Am I “eagerly waiting for Him,” and on Him, and in Him, and with Him, no matter what (Hebrews 9:28)? Do I long for Him to save me, to continue the work of healing He began in me so many years ago (Isaiah 25:9)? Will I submit to the prescribed regimen of disciplines He will use for working out my salvation? Could it be that waiting is spiritual therapy to strengthen my trust muscle? Am I willing to trust that the Great Physician is mercifully making me whole right here and now? I so easily hope in circumstances I believe will “save” me, rather than in the One who has promised to transform me no matter where I am or what’s going on. Do I believe my eyes will see the Lord’s goodness at work in the land in which I’m living (Psalm 27:13-14)? I need the corrective lenses of His Story to clearly see that He will even use where I am and what’s going on to work out what He wants for me.

I am accustomed to sitting in waiting rooms, eager to see the one I hope will heal me. But this Physician is already out here in the waiting room with me. The waiting room is part of His prescription. The healing is happening; He is curing my cares now, lovingly realigning my longings. By the suffering of longing He strengthens my long-suffering. He has made me His patient to make me patient. He is healing my broken hopes by setting them on Him.

The cure my heart craves is not in better places, positions, possessions, or people, but in His conforming my heart to the likeness of His Son. This Heart Surgeon works in the waiting room, in the places and positions He’s put me with the possessions and people He has given me. Waiting makes room in me for more of Him.

The Emmaus Model of Ministry

What can we learn from that “walk to Emmaus” about ministering to the people God has placed in our path? In Luke 24, Jesus gives us a ministry model worth imitating. Four ministries served two hopeless travelers on one road in a single day, yet they show us the history-shaping life and ministry of Jesus on a small scale. He walked with us, talked with us, taught us, and brought us to himself through the taking, breaking, and giving of his body for us. These are the ministries of incarnation, inquiry, interpretation, and ignition.

Read the rest of my latest article at Gospel Centered Discipleship . . . 

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