There was a rambunctious little boy who was always getting into trouble. One particular day when his Mother was trying to get some house work finished, he was into everything. Undoing what she has done. Causing havoc. And generally getting on her nerves.
Finally she said, go sit down in that chair in the corner and be quiet! He looked at her defiantly and said, “No.” Well, that did it. She picked up. Took him to the chair. Sit him down with some authority. And said firmly, “You stay in the chair, until I tell you get up, or you’re going to get a whipping!”
The little boy crossed his arms, furrowed his brow, and looked his Mom square in the eyes and said, “I may be sitting down on the outside, but I’m standing up on the inside!”
One of the greatest challenges in life is learning obedience. “Obey” is not a warm, fuzzy word. It has a hard sound to it. We instinctively don’t like the command to obey. And the problem with obedience begins early in life. Like the little boy. There is something within us that resists obedience. Our stubborn will. Our prideful attitude. Our fleshly nature. They come together and say, “I’ll do it my way.”
Yet 108 times the Bible instructs us to obey. God says….
Obey the voice the Lord. (Deut. 11:3)
Children obey your parents. (Eph 6:1)
Citizens obey the ruling authorities (Titus 3:1)
Servants obey your masters. (Col. 3:22)
We must obey Christ (Heb 5:9)
Christians obey the inspired apostolic letters (2 Thess 3:14)
Everyone is command to obey the gospel (I Pet 4:17)
Another challenge in life is learning when to surrender. Obedience involves surrender. In fact, Rick Warren wrote, “Surrendering is best demonstrated in obedience.” But that’s not a positive word in our culture. We think of giving up. Quitting. Waving the white flag. We’re taught to compete. To keep fighting. To play hard until the end of the game. Surrender? No way!
Surrender, however, is at the heart of Christianity. Jesus asks us to surrender to Him. Our minds. Our hearts. Our lives. He challenged, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it” (Lk 9:23-24).
Jesus is our example of obedience and surrender. He surrendered to the Father by coming to this earth to be our Savior. He relinquished His rights in his earthly relationships. In his boyhood, he obeyed Joseph and Mary. When he came to be baptized of John it was not because he had sinned, but to fulfill all righteousness. In that act of obedience he showed surrender. He gave up his equality with God and emptied himself of his privileges while on earth (Phil 2:6-8). In His suffering He showed surrender. And, of course, the ultimate act of surrender was in dying for us on the cross.
It is too much then for Jesus to ask us to surrender our lives to Him? Surrender involves our spiritual service. When we obey him in our homes, in our social relationships and in our business dealings, we show the spirit of surrender.
The reality is that we all surrender to something or someone. Pleasure. Possessions. Power. Or maybe we just give in to the pressure of life’s struggle. However, as E. Stanley Jones wrote, “If you don’t surrender to Christ, you surrender to chaos.”
The choice is yours. You can carry the weight on the world on your shoulders. Or you can give it up to the Lord. The song writer, John H. Sammis, was right when he wrote the lyrics….
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey,
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman