The Cross-Shaped Life
Taking on Christ's Humanity
by Jeff Kennon
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Pub Date 21 Sep 2021 | Archive Date 01 Mar 2022
Abilene Christian University Press & Leafwood Publishers, Leafwood Publishers
Who are we? This is one of the oldest questions, and the bottom-line answer is that we are created in the image of God. But when we ask what it means to live in the image of God, we cannot forget the cross. After all, God came, took on our likeness, and died on the cross. So what does it mean to live in the image of a God who is willing to die on a cross?
Though the cross is a well-known symbol in Western society, we are not prone to think of the cross as the key to our identity. Yet to discover the heart of God, and therefore who we are to be as his image bearers, it is to the cross that we must turn.
The journey of The Cross-Shaped Life takes readers into the story of God from creation to salvation, but it culminates in Paul’s words found in Philippians 2:5–11. It’s in these few verses that readers will discover that though our Western culture tells us that in order to find ourselves we must continue to acquire more prestige, power, and possessions, the truth is that we only discover who we truly are when we live lives of humility, service, and sacrifice on behalf of others.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 10 members
The Bible takes the top two spots for the best books I've read all year. The Cross-Shaped Life is certainly in the top ten, probably top five. Since I'm closing in on a hundred books (97 to date), that is no small feat. Especially since, there is nothing in this book that struck me as incredibly profound, new, or revelatory.
Coach Wooden was one of the greatest basketball coaches of all time. In twelve seasons he won the national title ten times. If you were to ask him, or Coach K, Jimmy Boeheim, or any other coaching great (including CBC coach Kirk Hanson) the secret to their success, they would almost certainly talk about teaching the fundamentals. Wooden believed this so much, one of the first things he taught all his new Freshmen was how to tie their shoes. I kid you not.
This book is the "shoe tying" lesson of Christianity we all need, but think we don't. Kennon's book is inspired by the Kenotic Hymn of Philippians 2 and is broken into two parts of four chapters each. The first part is the gospel. Kennon talks about what it means to be created in the image of God (our roots), and how we marred that image through sin (our ruin). Then he talks about the redemptive work of the cross (our rescue), and how the cross enables us to be justified before God (our restoration). The second part of the book talks about what our response to the gospel should be. If we are to have the same mindset as Christ Jesus (Phil 2:1-5), then we should be living lives of humility (ch 5), service (ch 6), obedience (ch 7), and sacrifice (ch 8).
Kennon makes some good illustrations to his points throughout. He also has solid interpretations and applications of scripture throughout. There is nothing flashy here, but from cover to cover he is writing well about the central issues of our faith. This would be a great work to cover chapter by chapter over two months in your small group or Sunday School class. It would also make a great resource for a pastor planning a two-part sermon series. Even if not picked up for either of those purposes, it is a work that any individual would benefit from reading. In fact, I'll probably be buying a few copies as Christmas presents.