What Does Cruciform Mean?
cruciform means In the shape of a cross, crucifix; x-shaped, +-shaped; cross-shaped (or in a few cases, T-intersects). In mathematics, it's formed by the formula x2y2 — a2x2 — a2y2 = 0, where x = y = ± a are the four lines. Traffic intersections can be cruciform. In genetics, cruciform structures are core to the function of a wide range of biological processes: replication, nucleosome structure, regulating gene expression, and recombination, as well as development of such diseases as cancer and Werner's syndrome.
In Christian theology, 'cruciform' means that all of life, and indeed all of existence, is focused onto and re-shaped by the cross upon which Jesus was executed. The world is badly broken, and God's way of restoring it to health is through this act, along with its companion act, the empty tomb. Christians believe that Jesus was God-with-us, and Jesus suffered an execution on the cross. Why would God suffer? Because we suffer. Because God wants everything to be right again, and that has a cost, just as it does in our own lives. Because God loves so much, so deep down, that Jesus emptied himself into death at our hands. Thus, anything that counts must be cruciform, reshaped by Jesus' death. If we die to ourself in Christ's death, then we stand before others not as our selves, but as Jesus the Servant/Lord did. To be cruciform, we love and serve, not kill or hate. Because that's how God did it.
A cruciform life is marked by these things:
1. If God works by and through suffering, then so must Christ's followers.
2. There is no shame in suffering itself, because God suffered.
3. God stands with the poor, the oppressed, and the marginalized in their suffering. That's not a blank check, but it is the rule. God is where they are, against those who make them that way.
4. It's not the story of Jesus' death that restores us. It is the action itself, the event itself, the person Himself, that restores us. The story is what brings this truth to us.
5. The trademark of God's work in restoring the created order is the mark where the nails had been -- it passes through suffering, even death.
Any theology, any preacher or teacher, any hierarchy or chain of command, any church practice, which bypasses those who suffer around us, or proclaims that we can avoid suffering in our own lives by following Christ, is not of God. "No cross, no crown", says the lyric. Yes, you can have fun, you don't have to be constantly serious -- the empty tomb tells us of a victory worth celebrating and a love worth enjoying. But it's only just begun. It is a journey to a cross. The real way of God is a cruciform life - forever shaped and reshaped by the cross.
Violence and Jesus' Crucifixion
Some radical atheists say, "Christianity is a violent religion, because it claims that redemption is brought about by an act of horrible violence". Which misses the point. What the Christian faith claims is that the God who loves us took on human violence, face-to-face. 'Do what you will to me', says Jesus. And so we did. By way of a form of violence that was created not by God, but by the mighty Roman Empire, so it could kill where everyone could see it and be in terror. And Jesus took it on, not like a man but as only God could do, by refusing to stop it with violence. Violence, like death, like hate, like everything else, has to pass through the fires of Jesus at the cross. It comes out the other end cruciform -- changed by the living Jesus into the transformative power of peace. Thus even violence itself is being transformed -- cruciformed -- by something much stronger: a God who will stop at nothing to make all things new.