Leading a Cross-Centered Life


A failure to focus on the Cross of Christ, to "preach" to ourselves the good news of God's forgiveness and acceptance of us in Christ, can lead to busyness or to introspection. I realize I don't measure up to God's standards, and it is easy to look to my performance as a way to affirm my standing before God. Or at the other extreme, I can withdraw into introspection and self-pity, despairing of fellowship with God and finding other ways to comfort myself. That's the gist of an excellent essay by Jay Wegter:

Certain temperaments are prone to specific departures from cross-centeredness. The “catalytic extrovert” has a personality that makes things happen. He shies away from introspection. He seldom retreats into the “grey castle of self.” He prefers to manage his dereliction (depravity) by performance, production, and by the generation of massive amounts of work.

The extrovert’s problem is harder to see than the person’s who is neutralized by condemnation. Yet the extrovert’s deviation from cross-centeredness is just as real – he may be operating by law, not grace.

By contrast, the person laboring under a yoke of condemnation feels that heaven is staring at him in one large cosmic frown. Thus he retreats into the grey castle of self and attempts to comfort his soul with sensual things justified by self pity.

Having lost sight of the cross, he does not entertain high prospects of the Lord’s desire to meet him and commune with him. Comfort from the Lord seems light years away.

For the person stuck in the castle of self, the sense of divine favor can only be restored by a fresh view of the cross by faith. For the cross alone is God’s answer to our paralyzing depravity and dereliction.

The cross alone can bring the condemned saint out of hiding and back into the joy of communing with his Lord. The cross lifts the believer out of the exasperation of not measuring up. It places the saint back upon the grace plane of abiding and being that constitute the life of sonship.

So also, the cross is necessary for the extrovert (or workaholic – “human doing”) to be restored to a place of communion that rests solely upon the Savior’s work.

Only the cross of Christ can rightly align the workaholic’s motives with God’s purposes of grace. ...

Those on the receiving end of the workaholic’s ministry may heap praise and gratitude upon him, but his soul is a dry salt waste of a wilderness. If he stopped long enough, he would discover that his heart was no longer a garden.

It is the Spirit’s constant work of grace that teaches us that Christ alone is the ground of all our acceptance, favor, and communion with God. Our greatest works and service do not add a single atom of weight to any of these three. Yet untold numbers of believers live as if their doing is an essential contributor to the three.

How do we lead a cross-centered life?

No one lives a cross-centered life without an intentional “curriculum” of self-talk. These little “sermons” we preach to ourselves are gospel sermons that reaffirm our utter dependence upon the cross for all favor, acceptance and communion with God.

This self-talk is the necessary way that we “do business” with our souls. All of our thinking and feeling must be rectified by gospel self talk. The cost of not doing so is high indeed.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on April 10, 2004 12:00 AM.

John Owen on how to set our affections on things above was the previous entry in this blog.

The Truth in Small Things is the next entry in this blog.

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