The Cruciform Life

Jonas Ellison
5 min readAug 26, 2019
Photo by Laura Allen

Cruciform (meaning: cross-shaped) is a word that I’ve fallen in love with over this last year…

Anything related to the cross/crucifixion used to make me cringe. It was a symbol of guilt, useless suffering, violence, and torture. I saw the cross as a tool for divine child abuse. An instrument of wrath used by a God drunk with anger and rage against his own creation.

But now that I’ve dipped my toes into studying (proper) theology, I realize how misled and ignorant I was to see it that way. The cross is a big part of the reason why I left Christianity decades ago. And now, the cross is why I can wholeheartedly identify as a Christian.

My former view of the crucifixion was a flawed one because it removed God from the suffering that took place on the cross. It put God up in the clouds as sonny-boy Jesus suffered on the cross.

But here’s the thing, theologically speaking... Removing God from Jesus is like trying to remove Oatly oat milk from coffee. It just doesn’t work.

On the cross, God is up there wearing a crown of thorns as blood and sweat run down his cheeks. God isn’t distant from the cross, God is ON the cross suffering.

On the cross, God absorbs all of the brokenness and (dare I say it) sin from humanity in a supreme act of self-emptying love.

This is the theology of the cross: God coming down to us in our lowest, most harrowing moments. It’s the opposite of our American theology of piety/glory where we think we have to climb higher than the next person on the spiritual ladder in order to be loved by God.

But culture always wins. And in this American culture, based on individualistic winning no matter the cost, we’ve used this as our hermeneutical (interpretative) key rather than Jesus.

I say we need a cruciform theology to help us heal. I see this in both the macro (the overall culture) and micro (our personal/inner lives). Here’s a quick example of how this cruciform life looks…

The cross-shaped life



Jonas Ellison

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