In 1904, William Borden, heir to the Borden family fortune, graduated early from a Chicago high school. Just a few years earlier, William ‘Bill’ had come to know Christ through the ministry of D.L. Moody. For his graduation, his parents presented him with a trip around the world. As he traveled throughout Europe and Asia, he became increasingly burdened for people he came across who were experiencing immense poverty as well as those who had never heard of the Gospel. Bill would later write to his parents of his “desire to be a missionary.”
When a good friend of Bill’s heard of his desire to serve God, he expressed disbelief that his friend was “throwing himself away as a missionary.” But that wouldn’t deter Bill. When he finished both college and seminary, he headed to China to serve as a missionary. He stopped in Egypt to learn Arabic to help him in his journeys but while there, the 25-year-old contracted spinal meningitis and died within a month of being there.
After his passing, his parents found these words written in the back of his Bible. “No reserves. No retreats. No regrets.” Many considered his life a tragic waste but not from God’s vantage point. Allow me to explain.
There’s a cost to following Jesus that many aren’t wanting to consider or are willing to pay. But if we are going to claim that Jesus is the Christ and call ourselves a Christian, then living as Jesus taught is critical. Jesus lays out the cost of discipleship in Matthew 10 where we get an early glimpse into His own foreshadowing that He, too, will pay the same price as we are called to.
Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it. Matthew 10:38-39
There are three ‘costs’ to following Christ that must be true of you and me in today’s message. These were not just something for the apostles but for each of us who desire to be a true disciple of Jesus. In the end, God would use William Borden’s life and death to call thousands of young men and women to leave all they had and give their lives to reach others with the Gospel. Are you ready to count the cost?
When I was visiting my mom this summer in Spain, we took a quick two-hour trip to Burgos to visit my father’s grave site. He is buried in a cemetery outside the city where he spent 20 years of his life loving people and sharing the Gospel. On the front of his simple tomb are the words of Philippians 1:21 engraved in the stone: “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
At 17, my dad surrendered his life to God at a Youth for Christ rally. A few years later, he and my mom followed the call to foreign missions. From his late 20’s until the age of 60, he lived far from his parents, extended family, and home country in order to share the Good News. When I visit his grave site, I like to remind my kids of his story. And I pause to pray for the city of Burgos that we as a family would continue a legacy of living on mission for God and making a difference.
Mark Jobe serves as president of Moody Bible Institute and host of Moody Radio's Bold Steps. He is the author of Unstuck: Out of Your Cave into Your Call (Moody Publishers). He is also the founding pastor of New Life Community Church, a Chicago-based ministry with 27 locations throughout Chicago. Mark earned a diploma from Moody in 1984, a master’s degree from Moody Theological Seminary, and a doctorate in transformational leadership from Bakke Graduate University. He and his wife, Dee, have three adult children.
Bold Steps with Dr. Mark Jobe takes you on the path to freedom and authenticity in Christ. With candid, topical teaching from God’s Word, Dr. Jobe offers simple gospel messages with the power to transform your life.