Is the “good news” (gospel) still “good” news or do we no longer need a message of goodness and hope? We shouldn’t be surprised because scripture is clear when it declares “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.” (1 Cor. 1:18) Yes, I know the verse follows with a “but.” But the “but” part is talking to believers and how they view the truth and value of scripture. It goes on to say “but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” Yes it is.
Let’s be honest, the very understanding of the cross as an instrument for causing a languishing death to a criminal is a very gruesome picture. Certainly verse 18 involves more than just a reference to violent death. The “message” of the cross is about the Son of God, Jesus, coming to earth to offer himself by death as payment for the sins of the world and the granting of forgiveness from God to those who will receive it. We get that. We embrace that.
But for those from the time this verse was spoken until today, this is a challenging concept to grapple with if one wishes to grapple at all. As best we can from inside the fishbowl of faith, let’s try to look through the lens of one who hasn’t come to faith in Jesus. For them, even the question of “god” is up for grabs, not to mention a very spectacular story about God coming to earth in the flesh via a miracle conception and having the power to forgive sin. And what about sin? They still have that to reckon with and decide whether there is a standard or person by which their life, values, morality and behavior are or should be measured. Let’s not take too much for granted here. Side bar – – when our flawed lives as professing Christians are on display, we can often tend to shrink the yardstick of comparison. Agreed?
The Holy Spirit has a lot of persistent work to do in cultivating a person’s interest in God and convicting them of sin. And this is what He does. John 16 relates that the Holy Spirit will attempt to convict the world (all people) of guilt in regard to sin vs. righteousness. He’ll do his very best to make them aware they are not “right” before a holy God whose standards we are measured against, not merely by “impeccable” Christian conduct. The Spirit will also counsel, comfort and guide to truth and bring to remembrance the life-giving words of scripture (if first we have heard or read them.)
Going back to “those who are perishing.” We all were once “perishing.” What shook you out of spiritual slumber? What woke you to an awareness of God, his goodness and desire to reconcile with you and have fellowship with you? For many, taking that step of faith or having a desire to do so means a significant change of heart and mind. Personal contentment can work against this. In our culture things are pretty good. We have the stuff we need. We feel pretty good about who we are. The future looks ok if not promising. Why rock the boat? Sickness and the prospect of death alert some people. Depression and despair cause some of the “perishing” to cry out for help. Many who have experienced life for what it is begin to ask “is this all life is and all it is supposed to be? Can I expect more? Something better? ” And this often prompts a faith search.
We who are people of faith, “those being saved,” have a role to play in this drawing the “perishing” to consider God and a relationship with Him. (2 Cor. 5:18+) As “light of the world” and those called, indeed commanded to be a witness of the grace and goodness of God, we are to live in a way that makes the world jealous of the treasure within our hearts. Personal circumstances notwithstanding, we are to demonstrate a life of hope, mercy, grace and thanksgiving that demonstrates a worthiness of the calling we have received in Jesus. (Eph. 4:1) The world still needs your life “message.” Think About It.