A little known episode of American history came to light in the movie Glory. The Academy Award-winning film called attention to some unsung heroes from the Civil War - heroes no matter which side, blue or gray, you might favor. They were the 54th Regiment of Massachusetts, under the command of Colonel Robert Shaw. What was unusual about them was this: The entire company of men was black except for Colonel Shaw, and they left behind a tremendous example of courage.
There is an extremely intense scene in the movie when Colonel Shaw learns that President Lincoln wants a recent Confederate States of America resolution read to them. It has just been passed by the Confederates, and it says that all Negro soldiers will be summarily executed if they are taken prisoner. Any soldier in their command and anyone commanding them will also be put to death.
It is night as that entire company stands in the pouring rain and soberly listens to that being read. Shaw finally retires to his tent having told his men that he would be happy to sign the discharge papers of anyone who wants to leave the next morning. As he goes to bed, he doesn't even know if he will have an army in the morning. Well, he did. When Colonel Shaw rose the next morning, he found his entire company was still there. Not one man had left, and later they attempted to take a Confederate fort near Charleston.
President Lincoln called their heroism "one of the turning points of the Civil War," because 180,000 black troops signed up to fight after that battle at the Charleston fort. This is an example of men who saw a turning point in their lives - the cost was spelled out to them, they counted the cost, and they made the commitment.
Luke 9:57-60, 62 of the Bible says, "As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, 'I will follow you wherever you go.' Jesus replied, 'Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.' He said to another man, 'Follow me.' But the man replied, 'Lord, first let me go and bury my father.' Jesus said to him, 'Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.' ... Jesus replied, 'No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.'
Basically, Jesus is saying, "If you follow Me, I'm going to give you the price tag. It will cost you comfort, personal plans, and rights that others may want to hang on to. It may reorder some relationships." The difference between Jesus and Satan is that Satan does not tell you what something is going to cost. Jesus tells you in advance. Going your own way will cost you deeply and Jesus will tell you that, but Satan won't.
You distort the Gospel when you try to discount it. Jesus calls you to a lifestyle that says, "All other agendas will take second place to Yours, Lord. I understand You paid a high price for me, and I am willing to pay one for You." The bigger the thing you are living for, the more important your life will be and there is nothing bigger than living for Christ. He is the One you were created for, and He is looking for heroes who won't say, "I will, but first ... " He just wants to hear "I will." Yes, it costs a lot to follow Christ, but it costs more not to - a wasted life.
In a war long ago, some soldiers knew it could cost them everything, yet they made their commitment. In the war for people's lives, Jesus says, "I have paid the price. Will you?" You have probably sung this song, now I hope you will live it: "I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back."