Jesus calls us to take up our cross daily, and in doing so, our lives will take the shape of His cross. Jimmy Davis describes such a life in his book, Cruciform: Living the Cross-Shaped Life, possibly the best under-the-radar, Christian Living book this year. He writes, “We are shaped by the cross into the shape of the cross,” and thus are transformed to fulfill roles of seeker, shepherd, sower and steward.
I will summarize these points.
- As children of God, we seek his kingdom and his righteousness first (Matthew 6:33). We desire to act like him, to love and think like him. We look to Jesus as our example for living well.
- “In relationship to other disciples,” Davis writes, “the servant is a shepherd, one who encourages brothers and sisters in Christ, who loves and labors with them” for the kingdom (Colossians 3:12-16). There are caveats with this point, but generally speaking we love and work with each other keeping the abundant life of Christ in mind.
- To those who aren’t disciples, we sow the gospel through actions and conversation. We have compassion for the crowds, like Jesus does (Matthew 9:37), praying for them and serving them for the sake of His kingdom.
- For everything in God’s creation, we are stewards on His behalf of all the resources God has given us: “body, time, talents/gifts, money, head/heart/hands, words, work, creation” (Matthew 24:45-51).
We do this due to a focus on Christ’s life, which is essentially cross-shaped, and out of the source of our spiritual strength, which is a cross-shaped spirit. Each of these roles intermingles with the community in which they serve, a give-and-take that makes Jesus’ disciples interdependent. Davis carries these concepts through the end of the book as he describes that cross-shaped source of our spiritual lives.
Each chapter opens with a well-written, personal example of that chapter’s theme, showing how he has learned and continues to learn the principles he has written here. Perhaps the most difficult of these principles is the overcoming of sin by faith, not by effort (Galatians 3:1-5), which is the reason Davis builds his book on it. His constant refrain throughout the book sings of the grace by which we were saved being the same grace through which we obey and are made holy. Even in the worst situations (the last chapter begins with one), our Heavenly Father’s grace gives us the strength to persevere.
I look forward to living perpetually in that grace. Sometimes I think I’ve learned that lesson, and then I discover I haven’t. I want to make space in my daily routine to hear the gospel, to dwell on the Father’s love, as Davis describes it, because that cross-shaped song is where the abundant life is.