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What is Gospel-Centered, Jesus-Centered, Cross-Centered Theology? Part III

The last two weeks we have discovered what it means to be Gospel-centered and Jesus-centered. If you have not read those articles, you can click the links to read them. This week we will discover what it means to be cross-centered.

These terms Gospel-centered, cross-centered, and Jesus-centered are often linked. If you properly understand what they are, you will realize they must work together. It would be very hard to believe in two of them and not the third. At the same time, they have minor differences, which is why I’m describing each separately.

To be cross-centered is to understand that everything we are called to be as Christians comes from the cross of Jesus. Whatever we are called to give to others has been given to us through the cross. In some senses we are splitting ideas here between being Jesus-centered and cross-centered. We live our Christian lives in a way that Jesus lived His life.

Cross-centered is a deeper understanding of our faith. It is to realize that certain things, traits and characteristics were given to us on the cross. Since Christ gave them to us through the cross, we can in turn give them to others.

It is not to say that Jesus’ actions on the cross were different from that of the rest of His life. It is to specifically look at what we were given as Christians through the cross itself. We can look at the life of Christ, see how He loved others, and use that as an example of how to love others. This is a good and proper thing to do. He is our primary focus of how we are to live.

There is, however, one thing to do something because of an example, and another thing to say that you have been given it. I can watch a rerun of how Michael Jordan plays basketball, but I’ll never be able to be like him in how he jumps, handles the ball, or shoots with someone’s face in his hand. Why? Because I have not been given those biological genes or innate skills. I watch it, see it, I can study it and maybe even understand it. Those things are not within me no matter how much I want them.

So there is a difference between being Jesus-centered and watching His life through Scripture; and being cross-centered believing in the cross for our faith and living out what we have been given on the cross. Someone who doesn’t believe in Jesus for salvation could study His life in Scripture and live by His moral code. But if you have put your faith and trust in Jesus for salvation, Jesus has been implanted in you, and through the work of the Holy Spirit, you can display the things which He displayed.

When it comes to loving others, we can see how Jesus loved others. If, however, you are a Christian you know that you have been given love through the cross. Because you have experienced such sacrificial love, you can now understand better how to give love to others. It works the same way understanding how we have been given grace, mercy, forgiveness, and many other Christian traits through the cross.

How does this look practically in the life of a church or in your Christian life? For the church service, it is to make sure that our singing is centered around the cross, Jesus and the Gospel. It is to make sure that our singing is centered on the cross of Christ, not just us.

For teaching it is to make sure that we are teaching every week on how the cross is connected to the passage or topic. I attempt to do this every week at the end of the sermon when I attempt to display every week how the cross of Jesus, and the Gospel is the central theme of the day’s teaching .

For our church it is also means weekly communion. Every week we need to be reminded that through the cross we are loved, forgiven, given grace, mercy and so much more. We usually offer a “communion meditation” linking the sermon and communion so that people can see how the cross affected our theology this week.

It also makes our Christian lives easier. Note, that I did not say it makes them easy, but easier. How so? Let’s say someone has greatly sinned against you. If I am I’m not cross-centered, I see the idea of loving and forgiving that person as hard. I know God wants me to love and forgive them. I know Jesus would be able to do it because He is God. But I see that task as not possible for me.

If I am Christ-centered I see it through the lens of what I’ve received through the cross. I have greatly sinned against God and Jesus, and yet Jesus died on the cross for me. I have been given grace and mercy, and feel it in my soul. Because it has been given to me through the cross, I am able to pass that on to others.

I hope you will take time to think on what it means to be Gospel, Jesus, and cross-centered. If you put these three theological ideas at the forefront of your mind, it will change your perception of Scripture, God, Jesus, others, and yourself. Are you a cross-centered Christian? How does this play out with a struggle you currently have with someone else? If your church is not cross-centered, how can you begin the conversation to move that way?

Thanks for taking time to read this Maddening Theology post. If you enjoyed this content you can find Pastor Tim’s sermons at You can also join us at 520 Marion St. Browndale, PA 18421 on Sundays at 10:45 AM. To make following the blog easier you can also register. You can also join us on Facebook at Cornerstone Forest City. Also, don’t forget to download our APP on iTunes  or Googleplay.