We hear much talk of “cruciformity” these days: Christians participate in the suffering and death of Christ, not only imitating Jesus in taking up His cross, but sharing in His death.

Cruciformity is true, but only a partial truth. 

Consider Jesus: He didn’t get to the cross until the end, and before that He preached the kingdom, did good works, healed, debated Pharisees and scribes, provoked, flouted Jewish custom, spoke woes and predicted doom and in general made a right nuisance of Himself. Then He died and rose again. 

So too the disciples in Acts. They share in Christ’s suffering and death, but not only that. Before they are cruciform, they share in Christ’s preaching (kerygmaformity) and mission (missioformity). They perform good works (euergoformity) and heal (therapeuformity). They debate (apologetoformity) and reiterate Jesus’ warnings about the approaching crisis. After death, they are vindicated, as Jesus was in the resurrection.

Jesus took a path that led to the cross, and the disciples don’t get to the cross without taking His path. They take up the cross as they follow Him.

Cruciformity comes in this sequence, but it’s not the whole sequence. Cruciformity is a crucial part of the larger reality of Christoformity.

Articles by Peter J. Leithart

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