What does a wrestler do when he’s placed in a painful and inescapable position?
What does an army do when it is completely surrounded and outnumbered?
And what do you do when God tells you that he’s madly in love you?
Well, that’s what a lot of believers say. Kind of strange, no? Think about it.
Has anyone ever responded with an “I surrender” when you told them that you love them? If someone did that to me, I would think that that person is thinking that I want to control them or something. lol.
Surrender communicates fear. At least the way it is normally used does. Wrestlers surrender to escape pain. Armies surrender to they don’t get slaughtered.
And it does so even when Christians use it. It makes it sound like God’s ultimate goal is obedience, and if he’s not obeyed that there will be punishment. In other words, he wants control over you, and he will use fear to get it.
But God’s not like that. At all.
First, obedience has its place. But God desires his children to move beyond merely being obedient slaves to being friends who know his heart. Jesus communicated this to his disciples the night before he was crucified (John 15:15).
Second, Jesus took care of any and every need for us to fear or be punished on the cross (1 John 4:18).
Third, God is not a cosmic control freak. That’s why he created us free, even to the point of allowing us to reject him if we so choose. There can be no love without the freedom to choose whether to love.
God is not militant; he is benevolent.
He’s not trying to get you to surrender to his every bidding. He simply wants you to know the depths of his love for you, and he knows the rest will naturally follow out of knowing that love.
Surrender is a poor word to describe our relationship with Christ. It expresses a sense of being obedient although, really, we don’t want to. There’s a word for “following Jesus” only out of a fear of damnation: religion. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7), but it is not the end of it. You can only truly get to know Jesus by love. We fear him as a foundation to fall back on when all else fails, but ultimately we are not able to live a fruitful life or have a healthy relationship without love being our motivating factor.
If you think that doing what God tells you to do is no fun, I have some good news to share with you: “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).
Let me switch to a related topic.
Have you ever told God, ”I give you everything. I give you all of me”?
If you haven’t, you’re probably not a disciple of Jesus (not that you have to say those exact words, but the idea within it).
If you have, have you told him that more than once? If so, I question why you are re-giving him everything. Did you take it back from him after you gave it? I encourage you to not do that. It’s just not a very nice thing to do.
Us belonging to God doesn’t mean he uses us the way we use our belongings like pens, clothes, or computers. We belong to God and God belongs to us the way a husband and wife belong to each other; we are his bride. It is a mutual belonging of love.
It’s not about giving yourself to God (as if he needed anything from our side). It’s about realizing that we belonged to him all along, even before we acknowledged it.
When you believed Jesus and became part of the Church you acknowledged that you indeed do belong to Jesus.
Here’s what I wish to point out: possession implies surrender.
If you acknowledge that you belong to God, then you’re already “surrendered” to him. You “surrendered” when you realized your need for a savior and came to Jesus.
Practically, this means that you have believed that God’s ways are a lot more fun and joyous than what the world has to offer. Thus, when God tells you to do something, you cheerfully do so, not because you are “surrendered” to him or because it’s your “duty,” but simply because you know that that’s the most fun and most joyful thing you can do. And if God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will doesn’t seem so fun or joyous to you, then your mind is not renewed in that area (Romans 12:2). If you come across something like this, all you have to do is ask Jesus why it’s so great and I bet he will tell you. Even if he doesn’t right then, if you truly believe he loves you and has your best interest in mind, then he can be trusted.
If “surrender” is to have a place in a believer’s vocabulary, it should be to describe the sweet surrender of giving up on your own efforts to try to please God and live upright and instead trusting in what Jesus did and does in and through you.
So I commend to you “Sweet Surrender” by Bread. These guys have it down :] (lyrics below video)
Baby I’m through runnin’ it’s trueI’d be a fool to try to escape youMaybe I’m beat but oh what a sweet surrender–You keep your rights, I’ll take your nightsNo one can lose when we turn the lights outTastin’ defeat, lovin’ that sweet surrender–I’m giving’ up myself to you but I didn’t really lose at allI gave the only love I’ve known and it never hurt me to fall–Now that it’s done, so glad you wonI know our lives have only begun nowNo more retreat, only y sweet surrender