Perhaps you are asking that this week as you return to your day-to-day responsibilities.
If there’s one thing that the past few days’ focus on Christ’s cross did, it’s remind most of us how unfocused we’ve been on the death and resurrection of Christ. We look back with grief over the way we yet again allowed the blood of Christ to slip to the periphery of our lives and let many other lesser things in to replace it. Why did we let it happen again?
More importantly, how can I stop it happening again? Here are eight directions to help you live a cross-centered life:
1. Have Easter every week
As far as we know, the New Testament church did not celebrate Easter once a year. They celebrated it every week; on the first day of the week to be exact. Every Sunday, they gathered to commemorate Christ’s resurrection; so much so that they even renamed it, “the Lord’s Day.”
2. Value the Lord’s Supper
Jesus knew that we would be so inclined to forget His death, that He instituted the sacrament of bread and wine to be physical reminders of this great historical reality. The exact frequency of observation has always been debated, but regular participation is certainly required if we are to “remember the Lord’s death until he come.”
3. Confess your sins
No need, no blood. Unless we sense our need of Christ’s suffering and dying in our place, we won’t think about it much. However, the more we are convicted by the Holy Spirit of our desperate sinful state, the more highly we will value God’s provision of His bruised and bloodied Son at Calvary.
4. Study the Old Testament
That seems a bit odd doesn’t it? The cross of Christ isn’t in the Old Testament, is it? No, but thousands of pictures of it are, especially in Israel’s sacrificial system. The multiplicity and variety of Old Testament sacrifices will remind you of both the centrality and diversity of blood sacrifices. God ordained so many different sacrifices to picture His multi-dimensional future provision of the one sacrifice to end all sacrifices. Without an understanding of the Old Testament sacrifices, we’ll never do anything but scratch the surface of understanding the atonement.
5. Read books about the cross
There are many good books about Christ’s atoning work. For beginners, I’d recommend Anthony Carter’s new book, blood work. I’d then consider reading one of Frederick Leahy’s short books, the cross he bore, or is it nothing to you?
If you want to take the next step up, R.C. Sproul considers the cross from different angles in the cross of christ and Leon Morris’s the atonement is another classic.
If you really want to stretch your mind and soul then try George Smeaton’s double volume set on the atonement (vol. 1, vol. 2). These books revolutionized my own life and ministry. (Continue to next page.)
6. Connect every doctrine to the blood
One of the benefits of Anthony Carter’s book blood work, is the way he connects the biggest Bible doctrines with the blood of Christ. Many start with justification, election, regeneration, adoption, sanctification, etc., but don’t link them to Christ and His cross. Carter starts with the cross and then expertly demonstrates the scriptural connections to not only the great doctrines of the Bible, but to holy living too.
7. Sing songs about the blood
As I read blood work, I grew more and more astounded at the number of Christian songs which reference the blood of Christ. Carter begins and ends almost every chapter with blood-soaked lyrics. I’ve gone looking for some of these songs online and I frequently just run through one or two on my iPod for a refreshing and reinvigorating remembrance. There are also many Messianic Psalms, like Psalms 22:1 and Psalms 69:1, which give us prophetic insight into the coming Messiah’s sufferings.
8. Embrace suffering as the best teacher
I’m not advocating that we go out looking for suffering. There’s no need to do that; it will come into our lives soon enough. The question is what do we do with it when it comes? What do we do with physical, mental, familial, or social trouble and pain?
We shouldn’t run from it and neither should we run from Christ because of it. Rather we should use it to draw us nearer to Christ and deeper into our understanding of His suffering. Every pang of bodily pain, every shadow of mental distress, every betrayal, every rejection, every persecution, etc., is a course on the sufferings of Christ, and should give us a better and longer understanding and love of His cross and empty tomb.
David Murray is Professor of Old Testament and Practical theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. He blogs at headhearthandand you can follow him on Twitter @davidpmurray.