The word “surrender” just doesn’t have a good sound to it. Right? I mean, who wants to surrender, give up, give in, let others claim the victory, lose? Surrender is associated with losing, and when you lose, you think of yourself as a loser.
But what if surrender isn’t always like that? What if it’s possible to surrender to good things—like surrendering to love, or surrendering your guilt and shame? In that sense, surrender is a good thing. When I surrender something bad, I’m letting go. Even if I’m surrendering something good for the benefit of someone else, that’s a good thing. But still, surrendering is hard! Sometimes really hard.
So why should we, really? Why surrender our way, will, rights for… others?
Here’s the why: A self-centered life implodes. A life focused on others expands. The old you cares more about your happiness. The new you cares more about the happiness of others. And oddly enough, the more you deny self, the more you fulfill self. There’s joy, fulfillment, peace, contentment, all on top of the benefit of extending love and grace to others. If we live a life of surrender—which is the way of Jesus—we change the world. If we don’t, our lives implode into the centrifugal force of self-absorption.
This is exactly what Jesus was teaching in Matthew 16: Then Jesus told his disciples, “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 will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done” (Matthew 16:24-27, ESV).
The emphasis in Matthew 16:24 is on the Person you’re following not the cross you’re bearing. Denying yourself (submission) and taking up your cross are not ends unto themselves. They are means to the end. The end is following Jesus. The point is following Jesus, coming after Jesus. We are submitting to a Person not a thing, not an ideology, not a theology, not a religion, not moralism.
And when we do that, we’re on the path to freedom. Sounds rather odd, doesn’t it? And yet this is what Jesus shows us: Submission leads to freedom. That sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s not. The only way out from the clutches of sin is submitting to Jesus Christ. We submit to Him, and He sets us free. “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatian 5:1, ESV). When you submit to sin, you become a slave to it. When you submit to Jesus, you are set free from sin. That’s why we submit to a Someone, Jesus, and not something—you name it—work, sex, selfishness, religion, you fill in the blank.
So how do we do it? How do we submit to Christ and live a life of submission to Him, not to anything else? Stay tuned to next week’s blog post… Surrender? How? (Part 2)