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The High Cost of Non-commitment!

Preachers, myself included, often talk about the high cost of commitment to Jesus. Rightly so, for the claim of Jesus on our lives is not that He died in a hot tub or on a pleasure cruise, but on an old rugged cross which truly was, in the words of George Bennard, "the emblem of suffering and shame" (verse 1, The Old Rugged Cross). The call of Jesus is not "Come, take up positive thinking and follow Me to health and wealth and have your best life now." No, His call is, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me" (Luke 9:23). To be a true disciple of Jesus and faithful member of His church comes with a cost — a cost that involves commitment of time, talent, and treasure.

How about the flip side of the coin? Is there no cost involved in failing to commit to Jesus? Are we off the hook with God if we reject Jesus outright or attempt to make the old rugged cross smoother and more convenient and comfortable to carry? Can we ignore the spiritual commitments God calls us to or be half-hearted about them and get off scot-free? The following story challenges that notion. An old farmer plowed by hitching his ox and mule together and working them hard. The ox suggested to the mule, "Let's play sick today and rest." The mule refused and insisted they get the work done. But the ox played sick and the farmer brought him fresh hay and feed and made sure he was comfortable. That evening when the mule came in the ox asked him how he made out. "We didn't get much done, but we made it through," the mule said. Then the ox asked, "What did the old man say about me?" The mule replied, "Nothing." The ox decided he had a good thing going and played sick again the next day. Later the mule dragged in, very tired. Again the ox asked how it went and the mule's answer was the same —"It went alright, but we didn't get a lot done." And again the ox asked, "What did the old guy say about me?" The mule replied in a tired voice, "He didn't say anything to me, but the butcher came out to the field today, and he had a long talk with him." It costs to be committed to Jesus. But the cost of sloughing off and not being committed will turn out to be much higher. Jesus' letter to the church at first century Smyrna (Revelation 2:8-11) illustrates this point. That church faced great pressure and Jesus warned "the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life." Commitment at Smyrna was costly, and being faithful may even cost some their lives. The pain, while great, would be temporary ("ten days") while the gain would be eternal ("the crown of life"). Jesus went on to promise, "He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death" (vs 11b). That "second death" turns out to be the cost people will pay for not committing to Jesus, and it involves being cast into "a lake of fire" (see Revelation 20:6, 14-15; 21:8). The Bible knows nothing of a cross-less Christianity, nor of a fire-less hell. There is a cost involved whether you are committed to following Christ or not. But no matter what it costs you to gain your soul, it Will be far less than you will pay should you lose it. A gospel song asks, "Have you counted the cost, if your soul should be lost?" (A. J. Hodge, Have You Counted the Cost?) That's the cost of non-commitment to Christ.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ