Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Surrender

I thought it might be interesting to talk about the word: surrender. I hear this word a lot as a Christian. More so than when I didn’t really believe in anything.  Don’t get me wrong, I definitely heard the word before; but mostly when I did, attached with it was always a great big negative connotation. By nature, I think the word surrender is not really such a good thing.  It's something weak(er) people do.  In sports, or in the game “tag”, or even in combat - to surrender, is basically to loose or give up, right?  Even by definition, Webster's dictionary presents it such as this:
sur·ren·der verb \sə-ˈren-dər\
: to agree to stop fighting, hiding, resisting, etc., because you know that you will not win or succeed
: to give the control or use of (something) to someone else
: to allow something (such as a habit or desire) to influence or control you

So yes, definitely not viewed upon as the best skill set.  I imagine there being a lot of shame tied to this word based on its definition.  So let’s place this word under the list of weaknesses rather than strengths, right? Wrong.
I’m not really sure how to explain it, other than this is one of those things (well words in our case) where Jesus sort of took it and changed it from being a bad thing to a good thing.  Interesting how that was basically his life’s mantra, right?  Taking things that were once sick, dirty, dead, bad; and turning them to be healed, clean, living, good.   
So, let’s talk about how this transition happened.
As we read about the life of Jesus, we learn that the very essence of the word surrender is displayed in his single-minded devotion to God.  You see, his very purpose, his life’s goal, was to come here to earth to accomplish the will of God his father as an act of love and obedience. (John 4:34).  And he made it very clear that his entire life was in complete submission or surrender to God.  (John 9:4, John 10:25, John 5:17, Luke 22:42) I believe we just read this in the definition above: 'to give the control or use of (something) to someone else; to allow something (such as a habit or desire) to influence or control you'.
Christ’s single-minded devotion or commitment to the will of God [the Father] was the result of him surrendering his life and will to God ’s agenda. Total self-surrender.  Even to the death. Such surrender meant giving Himself up sacrificially for mankind’s redemption in keeping with the Father’s plan (John 3:16).

Let’s also talk about as Christ recruited his disciples he made it known to them that in order for them to truly follow him the first requirement was total self-surrender. "Calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, 'If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it". (Mark 8:34-35)
 
So it basically goes like this: 
1. We have our absolute, our creator – God.   
2. Then we have Jesus, his son, who surrendered his life to God - which in turn caused him to surrender his physical life here on earth, all so that we, as sinners might be saved, redeemed. 
3. So in conclusion, we, as sinners who are now forgiven because of this act, are to live our lives in total surrender to God.   
Suddenly surrender looks a lot different, huh?

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

God offers us rest and total peace, all we have to do is come to him in faith, trust him, yield to him, depend on him. Admit to ourselves that we can’t possibly save ourselves.  It takes quite a bit of pride swallowing, but in the end it’s almost relieving. A weight is sort of lifted as life is pried from our hands and given back to its rightful owner – God. 

So I challenge you, when contemplating this word: surrender, to face your reality and look at the state of the overall world around you.  It’s a pretty broken world isn’t it? Truth is, we live in a world where bad stuff happens, a lot. A world, where when we're honest with ourselves, most of it is completely out of our control.  And even when we do seem to have some sort of control over a small part of it, somehow we always manage to mess it up.  And I think this is what God is trying to say to us all the time:
"Why do you keep trying to control things? Why do you keep trying to control your life, your destiny, people around you, your kids, your spouse, your tomorrow, your everything!?  How do you not understand that I created you? I created you with purpose and that very purpose is found in me and me alone.  So, give up, surrender, 'because you know that you will not win or succeed' on your own. I love you and therefor if you surrender your life [and allllll of your wills] to me, I will give you so much more.  I will give you everlasting peace, and above all, eternity."

So then, this word: surrender, while it may carry around a bit of a negative connotation in our everyday world, is surely a large part of the pathway to our spiritual maturity and effective Christ-like ministry.

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