Living the Cross Centered Life
To begin, I should say I have a very low tolerance for “touchy feely” books on living the Christian life. We live in a world that has pushed theology and doctrine into the realm of the specialists, leaving feelings alone as a measure of the Christian life for the common man. I’m not certain our culture is unique in this regard; the Puritans’ deep desire for an emotional connection with God could have been ripped out of the modern Christian book store.
C.J. Mahoney, however, surprised me with this short book. While he doesn’t dive deeply into theology, he does center on theology and thinking, rather than emotion. In fact, Dr. Mahoney is insistent that our constant reliance on our emotions is damaging our spiritual growth —something of a fresh wind in our Christian culture. What’s more, the doctrine he does deliver is dead center, respecting the Scriptures in the fullest sense of the concept.
He begins by explaining why the Cross should be the center of our lives, or rather why Christians can never really leave the Cross behind. He then focuses on the difference between feeling and thinking, or rather what you feel verses what is real. Faith is, after all, living your life in light of that which you know to be true even though current circumstances don’t seem to support that truth.
The next chapter slips somewhat, drawing a picture of God’s love for people. Here he makes the classic mistake of inserting a quantitative statement in the words of Christ in John 3:16, rather than a qualitative one. This is a mistake taken up by the large majority of the commentaries in the world, however, so it’s hard to fault the author for it. After this, he draws his reader into the divine dilemma —how can a perfectly just God save a people justly condemned to eternal death?
Dr. Mahoney works through the final week of the life of Christ, placing each of us into the scenes we find there. We are each condemning Christ, calling for his death. In the face of all this, the author turns again to the love of God, and how he not only covered our sins, but also understands our suffering in a sinful world.
In the two chapters, the author moves into practical application. These are the most valuable chapters in the book, explaining precisely what legalism is (trying to please God through our own will and actions), and how to unload condemnation. Here is a picture of the spirit filled life almost anyone, of any theological persuasion, can embrace and use to their advantage.
Well worth reading.