When someone mentions the word “surrender”, lots of negative definitions come to mind: cowardice, quitting, defeat, shame. When used in the normal course of conversation, these definitions are what is usually meant by surrender. However, when used in the context of discipleship, and when using God’s dictionary, the word “surrender means just the opposite.
In God’s definition of the word, surrender means victory! In Luke 9:23 Jesus said: “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me”. In this verse, Jesus was saying that His followers would be characterized by absolute surrender to Himself. But, what is surrender? What does it look like? Using this verse let’s take a look.
“Deny himself”. This doesn’t mean self denial. Many who have the proper self discipline can deny themselves certain things in life. By denying ourselves, Jesus was saying that we must give up all rights to ourselves to Him. He calls the shots. He is in control of our lives. We get off the throne of our lives and He takes his rightful place as Lord. We give up all rights to ourselves to Him, and become His bond slave.
“Take up your cross daily”. This doesn’t mean that we construct a big wooden cross and literally carry it around the streets of our community. To take up your cross means that we follow the same path that Jesus took when He walked the earth; one that the world says is filled with shame, and defeat, but which God says is filled with purpose and meaning. To take up our cross means to be totally committed to Jesus no matter what anyone else says, and to live for His approval, not man’s, no matter what the cost may be. It is to desire holiness in every aspect of our lives. It is a daily dying to self so that we are free to follow Him.
“Follow Me”. This means unreserved, unconditional obedience to whatever He call us to do. It is willing to be stretched and yanked out of our comfort zone if this is what He asks of us. It also means to have an intimate relationship with Him. We follow Him because we know Him and love Him so much, and we trust Him with all the details of our lives.
In a nutshell, surrender is giving ourselves totally to Him. How do we do this? Do we follow certain steps that are outlined in a book? No. The journey of absolute surrender is an act of our will where we intentionally give Him control. The next question many ask is: “How will I know when I do this? Will there be a definite point in time when this happens”? Absolute surrender is a life long journey that we embark on that begins when we take the first step of surrender – desiring with all our hearts to give ourselves to Him and desiring with all of our hearts to live for His glory. As we journey on this road of surrender, He will reveal aspects of our lives that we need to put under His control. Then the choice is ours, surrender that thing to Him or not. Again it is an act of our will, and no one can force us to do so. Even God won’t force us, He wants us to make that choice.
Does surrender sound negative, scary, even fatalistic? it would if we were surrendering ourselves to someone who didn’t love us and have our best interest in mind. However, we surrender to Him who loves us with a perfect love – the cross is all we need to look at to know this. Surrender is anything but defeat…it is victory!!!
In a militaristic context, surrender means to give up your freedom to save your life. In God’s context, surrender to Him means that you give up our life to gain your freedom. And there on no greater freedom on this planet than being a bond slave of Jesus.