Someone recently asked me this question: ‘Do you have any suggestions for practical, tangible first-steps that churches or missional communities can take to implement a cross-centred practice’
Here are some thoughts …
1. Model cross-centred living and make it explicit what you’re modelling
Tell people you are doing something because it is the way of the cross. We were looking at Philippians 3 recently in church and it’s interesting how 3:17 in which Paul invites people to follow his example follows on from 3:10-16 in which Paul talks of wanting to know the power of the resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in Christ’s sufferings, becoming like him in his death. I.e. when Paul tells people to follow his example he also tells them what that the framework that shapes that pattern – resurrection power to follow the weakness of the cross – and striving for this as something not yet fully attained.
2. What’s the loving thing to do in this situation?
In all sorts of decision-making situations or pastoral occasions, ask people, ‘What would it mean for you to follow the way of the cross in this situation?’ ‘What’s the loving thing to do?’ ‘What would it mean for you to serve, sacrifice, deny yourself, submit or suffer in this situation?’ I’ve found the question, ‘What would be the loving thing for you to do?’ a great question to ask because it immediately gets beyond what is just, right and fair, what I deserve and what they deserve. So, for example, someone is wronged by someone. They come to you with their complaint. They want justice. They demand condemnation. Talking about what is right or ethical just circles people back to what they deserve. But ‘what is loving?’ what is gracious?’ ‘how has God treated you?’ breaks beyond this self-centredness.
Above all exhort people to treasure Christ. Extol Christ to them so that service, sacrifice, self-denial, submission and suffering seem worth it. Matthew 13:44 and Philippians 3:8 are so helpful.