The significance of the cross is best thought of as the primary corrective to our current lens on life and faith. What needs correction obviously changes over time and space. In our day and time, the restoration of relationship is the absolutely crucial thing that we need to regain and is, thereby, the primary lens through which we need to view the cross.
Relationship is such a vapid concept in our day and time that we don’t even recognize there is no individual without the relationships that give shape and direction to the constituent parts of culture and community. In another day and time, when culture and community are the assumption and individuality is incoherent, models like penal substitution or christus victor may very well be the most important corrective lens through which to view the cross.
The meaning of the cross is not a static set of words or ideas – it is the means by which God loves and transforms the world. If we cannot view love and transformation through the dynamic lens in which we see where the action of God intersects with the needs of our present, then we have no hope of rightly understanding what the cross is and does, much less how to talk about it faithfully.