Following Jesus is costly, says Jackson
by Emily Grooms
CLEVELAND, Ga. (TMCNews) – Citing the names of eight Southern Baptist missionaries who were murdered this year, Al Jackson, senior pastor of Lakeview Baptist Church in Auburn, Ala., said, “There is a high cost to following Jesus.”
Jackson’s remarks came during his chapel sermon April 11 at Truett-McConnell College.
“We live in a dangerous world,” said Jackson, likening the missionaries’ sacrifice to the fulfillment of the Jesus Christ’s Great Commission as recorded in Matthew 28.18-20: “When the Lord Jesus Christ gave us our marching orders before he ascended into heaven, he didn’t say go to the nations only where it was safe and there is clean water; he said to go to all the nations, even the difficult places.”
“My prayer today is that God would make those of us who gather in this chapel service dangerous -- a threat to the kingdom of darkness,” Jackson noted.
Referencing Luke 9.57-62, Jackson noted several encounters Jesus had with people on the road to Jerusalem, and how they reveal what it means to follow Christ. “What Jesus says to these three individuals is contrary to American culture,” he said, “but it’s Gospel truth.”
To follow the Lord Jesus, we must be willing to surrender our comfortable lifestyle, Jackson said as he read Luke 9.57-58: “As they were traveling on the road someone said to Him, ‘I will follow You wherever You go!’ Jesus told him, ‘Foxes have dens, and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of man has no place to lay his head.’”
“Jesus was telling this man: ‘I’m glad you want to follow me, but before you decide to be my disciple, you need to count the cost,’” Jackson explained.
Jackson noted Jesus’ words as contrary to the American dream. “At this time in Jesus’ ministry he was homeless,” he said. Jesus is telling those of us who want to follow Him that “there will be a price to pay: you may not have a roof over your head.”
The average American Christian desires peace and affluence, Jackson said: “He wants as much as he can possess and to be left alone, undisturbed, to enjoy it. God help us that we are more concerned about ourselves than we are about getting the Gospel to the nations.”
If we will follow Christ, we must be willing to yield our personal plans, Jackson said, while reading Luke 9.59-60:
“Then He said to another, ‘Follow Me.’
‘Lord,’ he said, ‘first let me go bury my father.’ But He told him, ‘Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and spread the news of the kingdom of God.’”
The high cost of serving Jesus is based on the words of Jesus himself, Jackson noted. “Are you willing to yield your personal plans and serve internationally if that’s what the Lord says,” he asked?
“We ought to embrace the will of God,” Jackson said, noting the call of God is higher than one’s personal plans. “When Jesus is Lord of your life, you will be willing to go anywhere.”
Noting the final encounter in Luke 9.61-62, Jackson said, “If we are going to follow Jesus, we must follow faithfully to the finish.”
Jesus tells this man not to look back, only forward: “Another also said, ‘I will follow You, Lord, but first let me go and say good-bye to those at my house.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’”
“We must be willing to follow faithfully until the end of life’s journey,” Jackson said.
Jackson noted separation from family and friends, and the sacrifice of daily comforts as sacrifices necessary to follow God: “We live in a dangerous world, but Jesus says we must go and follow Him to the finish.”
“I’m persuaded that God is calling many of you,” Jackson said, noting the multiple numbers of ways to make one’s self available to God.
Jackson pleaded with students to listen to God’s call on their lives. “Can you honestly say wherever he leads you’ll go?” he asked. “He’s not Lord of your life unless you are willing to go wherever he leads.”
Emily Grooms is a Truett-McConnell senior English major and a freelance writer for the college.