“First Corinthians 18 says that ‘the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing’. This is a dire warning to those who find the cross too silly of a doctrine or who seek to diminish its place in the Christian faith to make their calling sure. Those who see the message of the cross as foolishness are perishing.
If we don’t understand the bad news, we will never grasp the good news. The bad news is not just that we don’t measure up to the law but that by the works of the law none of us will be justified before God (Gal 2:16). What alternatives to the cross are there? Be a good man? Be a good woman? Be a good Boy Scout or Girl Scout for Jesus? This is what it boils down to for many in the church: replacing the centrality if the cross with something more appealing, something we think is weighty. In fact, all across the evangelical landscape, people want to get away from the shame and the blood and the guts and the horrific slaughter of Jesus Christ and focus on something else with the cross out on the margins.
But the reason we do this isn’t so much to rectify an imbalance but to idolatrously elevate ourselves. It’s like the charismatics who want to make the day of Pentecost central to the Christian faith. Or the Calvinists who want to make TULIP central. Liberals want to make social justice the center. Fundamentalists want to make moral behavior the center. (Their motto is ‘Do, do, do,’ but the cross screams ‘Done!’) All of those things are good things, biblical things. But to make any of them the center of the Christian faith, the grounds of our hope, is to disregard the only power of salvation – the message of the cross. We end up like Indiana Jones trying to replace the treasure with a bag of sand. We think it will work, but the whole structure comes crashing down around us. Nothing runs to the center of God’s kindness and severity, demonstrating his justice, his love, and his glory all at once, besides his incarnate Son’s sacrifice on the scandalous cross.”
Matt Chandler, from his book The Explicit Gospel