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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN

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In Jeopardy for Jesus

A number of years ago, preacher Dalton Key (in a bulletin article entitled, "This Is Commitment?" ) related that during the days of our infamous Civil War, a humorist named Artemis Ward boasted, "I have already given two cousins to the war, and I stand ready to sacrifice my wife's brother." Key noted in the article that "needless to say, Ward's name is not remembered alongside the names of Grant and Lee as a major figure in that conflict." Let me name a name that I know you know and remember — Paul the apostle, arguably the greatest preacher and most influential person for the cause and work of Christ who ever lived (besides Jesus Himself). Why do we remember the apostle Paul? Not because he stood ready to sacrifice Peter and James and John and Andrew and others to the cause of Christ, but because he took up the cross and followed Jesus along the demanding pathway of discipleship, no matter where that path led or what it required him to do. First Corinthians 15:30-32 gives a thumbnail description of the personal sacrifices Paul made because of his commitment to Christ — "And why do we stand in jeopardy every hour? I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. If, in the manner of men, I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantage is it to me? If the dead do not rise, 'Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!' " These verses are a part of Paul's challenge to some at Corinth who were denying that there will one day be a resurrection of the dead (verse 12). The passage provides a very brief but highly personal cameo of Paul's own commitment to Christ. It reveals that serving Jesus was a hands-on, high-cost and high-risk activity for the beloved apostle! Paul insists (and the Corinthians knew it was true) that he stood in " jeopardy" (or danger) every hour. The daily death he died included the denial of self that Jesus calls all His followers to make (see Luke 9:23). But in 2nd Corinthians 11:23 Paul gives further insight into the phrase "I die daily" when he writes that he was in deaths often" (New American Standard Bible "often in danger of death"). Paul was physically, literally, and frequently in jeopardy for Jesus!

The point here is not to cause you to feel guilty or sub-par because you don't face physical danger or death because you are a Christian. The point is to get you to ask yourself if you are truly living for Jesus. In a world that is dying without Christ, we must not stand by and watch others in the church sacrifice (elders, preachers, missionaries, Bible class teachers, etc.) while allowing ourselves to practice a costless and cross-less Christianity. The question for most of us is not are we willing to die for Jesus, but are we truly willing to live for Him? The truth about the matter is that if we aren't willing to face some kind of jeopardy for Jesus, we will someday face jeopardy from Jesus. (Matthew 10:32-33; Luke 9:23-24)  Then He said to them all, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it" (Luke 9:23-24).

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ