Want to go deeper in your faith? Most likely, you have been encouraged to do so at some point in your Christian life. If not, let me encourage you to pursue such a challenge.
But have you ever stopped to think about what “going deeper” actually means? Does it mean reading more theology books? Going on more mission trips? Praying longer? Memorizing Scripture? I do think it can involve such things as these, but ultimately, I believe going deeper in one’s faith is centered on “the cross.”
It is the cross by which we see what it means to go deeper. And it is the cross by which we have the power to do so. Therefore, if we are to go to new depths in our faith, we will never move beyond the cross. It is the cross that informs and transforms our lives.
The Cross Informs
We glimpse the holiness, righteousness, justice, and wrath of God at the cross. We marvel at God’s love, grace, and mercy as well.
Our sin is exposed at the cross. We see its destructiveness. We see its power over our lives. We see how serious it is and how it leads to death.
And all of this is just the beginning. We will never plummet the depths of the cross. David Prior, in his commentary on 1 Corinthians writes that “we never move on from the cross, only into a more profound understanding of the cross.”
Therefore, we must preach the word of the cross to ourselves every day. It is the word of the cross that convicts and cuts against the grain of our self-centeredness. And it informs us as to what it means to live sacrificial lives in service to others.
The Cross Transforms
It is this preaching of the cross to ourselves that leads to transformation. Paul wrote that the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18). We are made anew by the power of God found in the gospel–the message of the cross.
The cross therefore, not only informs, but produces a spirituality that is counter-cultural to the world. The world values power, fame, and fortune, but the spirituality of the cross values suffering, deference, and sacrifice.
The cross produces humility. It creates an others-centeredness. It develops costly love for others. And it pushes us to participation with and service to those who are hurting in the world.
Those who go deeper with Christ must realize that spiritual depth and insight are found in the humility, self-sacrifice, and surrender that Christian service requires.
Going deeper also means that we suffer. Paul wanted to know [Christ] and the power of his resurrection [and to] share in his sufferings (Philippians 3:10). “The more a believer becomes like Christ,” writes Kent Hughes, “the more he or she will suffer.” Taking part in “the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings is the fellowship of elevated souls who are growing in their knowledge of Christ.”
The bottom line is that to go deeper in your faith is to become more like Jesus. It is to have his attitude of humility, obedience, and service (see Philippians 2:5-11). To grow spiritually is to be formed and transformed by the cross. It is to deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow [Christ] daily (Luke 9:23).