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How Expensive Is Your Loyalty to Jesus?

The late, great comedian Jerry Clower was the size of a professional football player. He once told that his son was the field goal kicker for his high school football team. One day his son had a chance to kick the goal that would give his team the lead and maybe the win, but the kick went wide of the goal. Four rows from where Clower sat, a man jumped up and began heckling and booing loudly. "Who is that kicker? He couldn't hit the broad side of a barn with a football." On and on he went, ridiculing Clower's son. Clower said, "I took all of it I could, and then I made my way through the crowd, sat down next to that guy, looked him straight in the eye, and said, "You need to thank Jesus that you're still alive." The guy said, "What do you mean?" Clower answered, "That's my son you're ridiculing, and the only reason you're not dead right now is because I'm a Christian and Jesus won't let me kill you." Clower's funny words remind me of a serious truth — as Lord, Jesus Christ has authority to tell us how to live our lives. How much authority do you allow Jesus to have over you? E. W. Blandy's hymn has challenged millions of people to think about the depth of their commitment to Christ — "Where He leads me I will follow (repeat two more times), I'll go with Him, with Him all the way" (chorus, "Where He Leads Me I Will Follow"). Even in this day of user-friendly religion and cross-less Christianity, those who read the Bible can still hear Jesus saying, "Take thy cross and follow, follow Me." Get real — do you allow Jesus to have the final word, even when what you want to believe or how you want to behave is very different from what He demands? An epitaph on the tombstone of an old English solider who lost his life in battle spoke volumes: "He served King Charles with a constant, dangerous and expensive loyalty." That soldier was sold out to his king — prepared to pay any price up to and including his very life to honor and obey his king. Myriads have displayed that kind of dangerous and expensive commitment out of love and respect for earthly, human kings and causes. At this hour 10's of 1,000's of Americans are scattered around the globe, many of them in harm's way, because of an expensive commitment to our nation and way of life.

Jesus preached what He practiced. He served the Father with a constant, dangerous, and expensive loyalty. In the end, of course, His loyalty led to death on a cross. But Matthew 3:13-17 reminds us the commitment that carried Him to and held him on the cross was there in the very beginning of His public ministry. Jesus' loyalty to God's will led Him to submit to baptism at the hands of John the Baptist — "a baptism for the remission of sins" (Luke 3:3). John was clearly conflicted about baptizing the sinless Son of God (Matthew 3:14), but Jesus insisted, saying "for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness" (vs 15). The result of Jesus' commitment to go all the way in doing God's will is seen in verse 17 as He steps out of the water after John baptized Him — "Suddenly, a voice came from heaven, saying, 'This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.' " From baptism by John to death on a cross — Jesus didn't balk at anything God asked and/or directed Him to do. How about you? Just how expensive is your loyalty to Jesus? Have you followed Him in baptism and the new life that follows it (Romans 6:1-4)? Just asking.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ