The Foolishness of the Cross

The Foolishness of the Cross

Day 9 – The Foolishness of the Cross

Read 1 Corinthians 1:18-31; Galatians 6:14; Psalm 119:97-104

A few years ago I was sitting in a hotel lobby watching Fox News. (Don’t judge me! 😉 The top story of the day was about a cross that had stirred up controversy on the campus of the College of William and Mary.  After being displayed for more than 70 years in the school’s chapel, the cross had now become a symbol of religious intolerance. It was reported that the president of the institution was the one who actually had it removed stating “this is a diverse institution religiously, and we want it to become even more diverse” (,2933,250154,00.html).

Unfortunately, stories like this are becoming commonplace in our culture. It’s almost unsurprising anymore when I hear stories about the ever-increasing usurpation of all-things-God in our country.  It almost doesn’t bring about a turn of the head or a blink of the eye anymore.

But the question begs asking: What is it about a cross displayed in a university chapel that incites such resistance and controversy?  Why do people feel threatened by two pieces of intersecting brass beams?  Or is there more to the issue than what we see with our eyes?  Without question, the connotations of the cross cause the stir.  It’s what the cross represents that is so offensive to people.

Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 1:18 that, “to those who are perishing, the message of the cross is foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is God’s power.”  It is this message of a crucified and risen Savior that the world rejects outright as foolishness.

Later in verse 27, Paul says, “God has chosen the world’s foolish things to shame the wise, and God has chosen the world’s weak things to shame the strong.”  The wise and strong in our world clash with the idea of the cross.  Its message is counter-intuitive to everything they stand for.  The world says that intellect and strength should be achieved at all costs.  From the university classroom to the gym, the message that is promulgated today is “achieve wisdom and strength at all costs” not realizing that they are looking for both in the wrong places.

To be clear, I am not saying that we need to be anti-university or anti-physical fitness. But the world’s idea of wisdom and strength is very different from God’s.  His wisdom embraces the cross of Christ.  His wisdom is attained through His Word.

In my senior year of high school, I had to memorize a verse of Scripture every week before I met with my small group Bible study.  One week I memorized this verse to share with my leader: “I have more insight than all my teachers because Your decrees are my meditations” (Psalm 119:99).  I memorized it as a joke because I had such a good relationship with my leader.  We both still laugh about it to this day.

There is so much truth packed into that one verse. This is true wisdom.  This is insight—to meditate and study on God’s Word—to allow His very words to be injected into our souls and change the way we think and the way we live.  And this includes every part of Scripture, even the tough parts about the cross of Christ.

According to Galatians 6:14, the cross of Christ must be the only thing in which we make our boast—the only thing in which we take pride.  John Piper said that the shocking thing about this verse is that when we say we glory in the cross of Christ it is like saying that we glory in the electric chair, or that we glory in the lynching rope or the gas chamber (John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life, Crossway Books, 2003, p. 49). In the Roman world, crucifixion followed by asphyxiation on a cross was the cruelest form of torture known to mankind.  Maybe that’s why the preaching of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.  They don’t understand that the cross of Christ is the hope of the world.

Again, one of the great paradoxes of our faith is this: Christ died so that we could live.  Christ bled so that we could be healed (Isaiah 53:5).  What seems foolishness to a dying world is the power of God to those who are being saved.

Challenge Questions:

  • How do you feel every time a cross or Christian symbol is removed from a public place?
  • In preparation for Easter this weekend, what are some ways you can meditate on the cross of Christ and keep it central to your thoughts?
  • How will you decide this week to make your boast only in the cross?