By Dr. Kevin Thomas —
On February 4, 1980, 88 students turned out for spring training for freshman football at Alexander City Junior High School. We endured four long weeks of practices only to have our spring game cancelled due to rain. After a week off for spring break, we resumed off season training. Three days a week for the rest of the school year and throughout the summer we lifted weights and ran. Wow, did we run! Sprints! Downhills! Cross-country! And STADIUM STEPS! YUCK! We missed days on the lake, family vacations, and youth trips. On August 4, we put on pads for daily practices. Two weeks later, we started two-a-days: 8:00-12:00 and 4:00-7:30, all during the hottest August on record. The workouts were brutal, but our coaches promised it was worth the cost. Our numbers dwindled. By the first week of the season, our 88 players had shrunk to fewer than 20. We had to borrow 8th graders to field a team. Still the coaches promised that those of us who remained would reap the reward for our labor. Our team went 1-8 that year, and I suffered a concussion that would end my football career. Sometimes the outcome is not worth the cost.
Jesus says that the cost of being a disciple is high. “In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples” (Luke 14:33 NIV). He advises us to count the cost. Countless examples throughout our history have done just that and discovered that following Christ is worth the price. Paul abandoned his privileged status as a Pharisee to follow Christ. Peter left the comfort of a solid fishing business to travel a course that ended with his own crucifixion. Anthony of Egypt (250-356) renounced all the pleasures of this world to live as a monk in the desert. Martin Luther risked a stand against the Roman Catholic Church and John Wesley against the Church of England. Countless others were tortured and martyred because they were convinced that Jesus is worth the cost.
We will sacrifice for something. I’ve sat through scorching heat and pouring rain to watch Bama football. I’ve run miles to try to drop a few pounds. I’ve worked 48 hour weeks in a textile mill for a paycheck. I’ve gotten up at two in the morning to feed a crying baby. Some reasons for sacrifice are better than others. None is better than the cause of Christ. He, above all else, is worth the cost!