This week finds us in Denton, Texas, where I’m preaching in a meeting at the Eastside church. It’s wonderful to be back in an area where we lived and worked and to see so many of our friends again.
Last night, in connection with our theme, “Developing the Mind of Christ,” we discussed the concept of surrender. It’s a word that has a negative connotation. But it deserves our consideration. And a larger audience.
When we hear the word “surrender” in our society, we think of giving up. Quitting. Waving the white flag. In sports, business, and life we’re taught to compete. To keep fighting. To play hard until the end of the game. Surrender? No way!
Yet, surrender 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 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 submitted to 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.
Is it too much then for Jesus to ask us to surrender our lives to Him? Surrender involves our spiritual service. Paul expressed the idea of surrender when he called upon us to give ourselves to God as “a living sacrifice.” “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1)
Rick Warren was right when he wrote, “Surrendering is best demonstrated in obedience.” When we are willing to “trust and obey” we show that we’ve surrendered our will to His. Conversely, an unwillingness to obey manifests a failure to really surrender.
When we obey Christ in our homes, in our social relationships, and in our business dealings, we show the spirit of surrender. Surrender also means casting our burdens on the Lord.
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.”
When we surrender to the Lord in complete and voluntary obedience, we not only experience peace with God, but peace within and peace with others. Spiritual surrender results in freedom from the bondage, burden and blame of sin. And it allows God to work His power in our lives.
Obedient surrender pleases the Lord, serves as a shining testimony to the world of our faith, and even becomes a catalyst to help us grow stronger spiritually.
Surrender runs counter to our culture, but as C. S. Lewis observed, “The Christian way is different: harder, and easier.” In other words, Lewis explains, “Christ says, ‘Give me all. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want you. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good.’”
Surrender is not a sign of weakness. But a manifestation of our strength.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman