[For] the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. —1 Corinthians 1:18
At a recent holiday gathering in southwest Texas, several members of the clan took a couple of hours to explore the wildlife ranch where we were staying. It was a truck safari guided by the ranch’s onsite wildlife manager.
The ranch is home to a variety of African savannah animals. It is also home to local coyotes, eagles, and other predators. Managing the life and death struggle between predators and prey is an ongoing challenge, especially since most predators target the exotics’ newborn calves.
While we were riding along in the top of the safari truck the manager spotted a coyote. That led to an explanation of the role of management in “wildlife management.” And that led him to mention that spot on the ranch where carcasses were gathered when they were discovered.
And yes, someone said, “Can we go there?” The manager lightly declined but we were insistent. So we went. He told us it would smell bad—really, really bad. We didn’t care. We were fascinated by a look into a world we almost never see from this perspective.
Without adding details, he was right. It smelled pretty bad. And it wasn’t pretty, at all. At least to us. Among the bones and leathery remains of hides that no longer protected their previous owners there was ample evidence of coyotes, eagles, and other predators. To us the scene looked and smelled like death. To the predators with hungry mouths to feed it was a buffet of life.
There is something of a parallel, or maybe a reverse parallel, between what we saw on a south Texas ranch and the inspired words of the apostle. The message of the cross appears foolish and futile to those who recognize no personal need for a Savior. Those who are perishing in their ignorance and sin, understand no value in saving grace or divine mercy or a sovereign plan for reconciling sinful man with our righteous and holy God.
But to those who know their most desperate need is forgiveness and life in the face of well deserved death, the word of the cross of Jesus Christ is power! It is power to save, power to forgive, power to transform, power to live. The word of the cross is power for joy and hope for those who recognize the peril they face when, upon their inevitable demise, they face the judgment of their purposeful Creator.
To us, the pit on the ranch was simply a place of death. It held nothing for us. To the hungry coyotes, the pit was life. The difference was the knowledge of real need. To those who are perishing in their sin, the word of the cross holds no life, but to us to whom God has revealed our true need and given us faith to see our need for what it is, the word of the cross is the power of God.
What is it about the cross of Christ that means most to you?
Where does the message of the cross connect with your sense of self and reality?
What facet of the cross might connect with someone you know who still thinks of the cross as “folly”?
Dale McIntire (D.Min, Bethel Theological Seminary) has pastored Cornerstone Community Church for 28 years and is the author of Catching the Wind: A Guide for Interpreting Ecclesiastes. He is married to the originator of the Fighter Verses concept, Linda Fregeau McIntire, who also authors and co-authors Truth78 resources. They share a like zeal for infusing the next generation with love for God’s Word.