I John 3:16-18 (NIV) This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
Withholding nothing. It’s funny how we think that we have surrendered our life to the Lord only to discover that there are areas of our life being withheld. No one really wants to admit it. In the shadows of religion, there is a hiding place called doing that covers the façade of stubbornness. We do things but are we willing to surrender all? Withholding nothing.
Surrender is not a singular struggle but an ongoing pursuit. In a world consumed with self, it is difficult to fully understand what it means to give our life away. To surrender our life completely to Jesus Christ. Surrender is not submission. It is not a sit back or stand down position but a fully prostrate rendering to God without reserve. Each day when we say, “Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. This is an act of submission to the divine power of the Living God. To accept His Authority and to submit to His Will, His Plan and His Purpose. Surrender is different.
John 10:17-18 (NIV) The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.
God loves Jesus because He laid His Life down for all of mankind. No one could take the life of Jesus but He had to lay down His Life willingly and purposefully to die on the Cross for our sin. In fact, the Lord goes on to say that “I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.” You have the same authority over your body. You can remain in control of your life. God is not forcing us to the altar. He does not require us to live a better life. Surrender is all about willingly laying down our life before God and refusing to pick it up again.
John 15:13 (NIV) Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
Have you surrendered your life to Jesus? Are you withholding anything? I am asking myself these questions. I want the answer to be “yes” but how will I ever know without an evaluation? I can lay face down at the altar of my church and still get right back up carrying the same weights and burdens. I have submitted to God’s Authority by bowing down before Him but I have not surrendered anything to the Lord.
Greater love is the evidence of surrender. Who do you love? Love should be seeping and emanating from every facet of my life. Without restriction, it should pour out on others just like it rains on the just and unjust without regard. Laying down my life in vulnerability limits my ability to be selfish and right all the time. Isn’t that uncomfortable. It opens my life to God in a whole new way when I surrender all of my heart, mind and body to the Love that I have found in Jesus Christ. I will never be able to fulfill the plan of God for my life outside of love. His Love for me. My love for Him. It completes the restoration of our partnership as Father and Child.
Mark 10:28 (NIV) Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!”
Jesus was approached by a man who wanted to know how to inherit eternal life. He indicated to Jesus that he had successfully adhered to all the commandments. Jesus pointed out the one thing that he lacked. He then told him to go sell all his possessions, give it all to the poor and then he would have treasure in heaven. The young man’s response was to simply turn and walk away. He had too many thing things that he was not willing to give up. Jesus then directed his attention at his disciples and told them, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God? Paul’s response tells the rest of the story.
Peter had submitted his life to Jesus. He followed the Lord everywhere He went and in all that He did. He followed Jesus’ instructions doing what He said time and time again. But up to this point, Peter was not surrendered to the Lord. His answer betrayed his heart. We have left everything to follow you!” Or have we…
Oswald Chambers wrote about surrender in his book, “My Utmost for His Highest”. Surrender is not motivated by personal benefit. Our motive for surrender should not contain any personal gain at all. The world and its people are so self-centered that we come to the lord only to get something from Him and not just because we want to know Him for ourselves. “Gaining heaven, being delivered from sin, and being made useful to God are things that should never even be a consideration in real surrender. Genuine total surrender is a personal sovereign preference for Jesus Christ Himself.”
John 15:4-5 (NIV) Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
Surrender is an intimate decision to give our entire being to the Lord – body, mind and spirit. Jesus invites us to remain in Him and He will remain in us. He promises those who do will bear much fruit. Is my life fruitful? This is a sign of surrender. If no new life is growing from our own life, it is time to check our connection to Jesus. Surrender is the intimate decision and inner longing to be completely one with the Lord. How am I doing with that? It will never be associated with what I do in the church necessarily or how faithfully I serve Him by signing up for everything. The effort of surrender is the acceptance of His Grace. It believes that Jesus is enough. His Sacrifice complete. To become one with Christ and in right standing with God in all things. This is the life of surrender desired by Jesus for his people.
Matthew 7:7-8 (NIV) “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
Revelation 3:20-21 (NIV) Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.
Surrender is the invitation of Jesus to live with us and in us. It is the gentle whisper reminding us that there is more for the seekers in life. Rather than viewing it as a hostile takeover of our life and everything that goes with it, what if it really is a suitor’s hand written love letter to meet Him in a secret place. There is coming a day when every knee will bow and tongue confess the Lordship of Jesus Christ. This will be the dawn of our wedding day.
Submission to the Sovereign Authority and Power of God is inevitable. You can do it now or you can choose to later. However, surrender is a choice. When our desire for the Living God moves past tangible needs, wants and desires to the supernatural consummation of our relationship with Jesus Christ, our new life begins to finally take root and grow into the beautiful love story that He promised. As I evaluate my life and determine if I truly have surrendered every area to the Lord, I find that it just got a little easier. Examining my life, I can see the areas where Jesus is and the areas that He is not. Surrender opens every door and window into our life for the entrance of Christ. I want Him to fill every area of my life. I must surrender all. Withholding nothing!
Matthew 16:26-27 (NIV) What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.