"I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me." Galatians 2:20
Jesus wants you to be a modern day Christ-type. I don't mean just to "be like Christ." I believe Jesus wants to write a story with your life, one that reveals His-story of forgiveness, second chances, and new life, even for those who would put Him on the cross.
What does it mean exactly, to be a Christ-type? Certainly it means the things you would expect–dying to selfish desires and opting for His will over your own will. But as I study the life of Christ, Biblical Christ-types, and even what I believe are modern-day Christ-types, I notice a pattern emerging. That is, the pattern of bearing the sins of others done against them so that they might bring good out of it for many.
The greatest work of the cross entailed Jesus bearing the sins of humans so that they could be saved for eternity. Part of this involved suffering great injustice, rejection, mistreatment, and persecution. All of this was heaped upon the sinless Son of God just so He could save even those who brought about His suffering.
Now to be sure, we are not sinless, and none of us will probably ever hang on a cross, but we have become righteous in the blood of Christ, and we are called to take up our cross daily to follow Him (Luke 9:23). I believe that means to follow suit, bearing the sins of others done against us. But is that the story of the Christ-types of the Old Testament?
Joseph bore the injustice and results of the sins of his brothers, recognizing their treatment as an opportunity for good. Because of his patience and forgiveness, he became a "savior" for his family and all of Israel during famine.
Moses bore the responsibility and injustice for the sins of his people on several occasions when he mediated and pleaded to God to forgive them and relent from destroying them. Because of his humility and mercy, he was a "savior" to his people, leading them up to the Promised Land.
David patiently bore the hateful and unjust treatment from Saul so that he could be counted worthy of being the next king of Israel. David's tender and teachable heart resulted in being a "savior" for the whole kingdom of Israel from their enemies, and the ancestor of the future spiritual Savior, Jesus.
In each of these lives, a slightly different version of the cross was told based on unique people, gifts, and circumstances. Their cross was both vertical and horizontal. In the vertical (between heaven and earth), they laid down their wills to worship and serve God alone. In the horizontal (between their fellow man), they laid down their lives for the good of many.
Laying down your life for those who would treat you unjustly is hard on the pride. It is certainly a death. But as sons and daughters of God, it is required. "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:44-45)."
I know of many modern-day Christ-types, people who are willing even to physically die to save those who would kill them. This is truly their cross. Dr. M.A. Thomas, whom you may have heard me refer to as "Papa," is one such example. The father of tens of thousands of orphans in India, and a man who has endured 50 years of persecution, has shared Christ with most all of his persecutors. These men have tried to imprison, beat, and even kill him. In fact, the anti-Christian who killed the first martyr where Papa set up ministry in NW India finally put his faith in Christ, because Papa was willing to take up his cross, and bear the man's sins (lovingly and patiently accept injustice) for the good of the man's eternity.
I, too, endure people who treat me unjustly, meanly, and sometimes even hatefully in this world. I am often tempted to hold a grudge or to hate back. But I am now reminded to take up my cross, bear their sins because of His cross, and to love my enemies for the sake of their eternity.
Will you do the same?