The most striking thing about the gospel is that in the gospel God showed us that things aren’t just about ourselves. When he came in Christ he came for others.
This is probably the greatest transforming factor we can see. The greatest thing troubling the world since the Fall is that we live for ourselves. In the gospel message we see the exact opposite. Imagine what the world would be like if we all followed Christ: if we all followed the character and life of God he showed us in the incarnation: the birth, life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus.
This is easier said than done. It takes picking up our cross. The life of God is cross-centred. It is self-giving, serving of others. It takes critical decisions on doing what is best for others, and not for ourselves. This is how God acted in the gospel.
This is what it means to “take up our cross.” It isn’t a withdrawal from the world, into private piety with our families, churches and friends. It is considering the welfare of others. It is going into the world to serve. It is serving of enemies.
And it includes economics. Following God isn’t just a spiritual thing, or about the morality of our personal lives. Life isn’t divided into neat compartments, so we can shut people out of certain areas. Again, the most striking thing we see in the gospel is that it is outward centred. The gospel includes liberty and change for the world, spiritually, socially, economically: setting us free from sin and the oppressions that pervade our social and cultural lives.
Following Jesus means we act in love towards others, and this love covers all aspects of life: transferring us from individualism and our personal families to a wider community love which witnesses to Christ and transforms our world. But the bargain here is that this is how we are truly transformed ourselves. God meets us in the people we serve, even in our enemies.