Sunday, November 19, 2006


Surrender to God! (James 4:7a Contemporary English Version)

This weekend’s talk ("Holy Cows") focused on surrender…that the only way to uncover the God-dream inside of us is through the door of humility. Humility connects our heart with the purposes of God. Problem is: it’s a really, really small door. You can only get through it on your knees.

A friend of mine says that humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less. I think humility and surrender are inextricably connected, like a Celtic knot ring, because we’re hardwired to be self-focused after the Fall.

Saturday night I had an interesting talk with a friend who is leading a “Call” group with people who are seekers. One of them raised a question about the word surrender, how it feels like a negative transaction, that someone loses in the exchange. It felt demeaning to them. That’s a thought worth exploring. And I have to frankly admit that as a guy it feels more than a little emasculating.

David Morrow, author of Why Men Hate Church, writes that churches “use man-repellent terminology. For example, you have two kinds of people: the saved and the lost. Men hate to be lost – that’s why they don’t ask for directions. If you tell a man he’s lost, he will instinctively resist you! And the only thing worse than being lost is being saved! The term drips with passivity . . .

“Although Jesus used the term saved a number of times in the gospels, if you carefully examine the text, He never called anyone to be saved. Instead, he called men to follow him. Hear the difference? Follow gives a man something to do. It suggests activity instead of passivity. But being saved is something that happens to damsels in distress. So why not use the descriptor Jesus himself preferred? By calling men to follow Jesus, we put Christ’s offer in active terms that appeal to everyone.”

I think Murrow has a point. But we have to be honest with language. Although the word surrender isn’t used much in the New Testament—usually the word submission is used, and often in the context of relationships with each other or governments—the concept is clearly there. It’s typically regarding subordinating our wills to God’s will, as modeled by Jesus at Gethsemane: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)

Since we’re ordered to pick up our cross and follow Jesus, seems to me this subordination, this surrendering, is inevitable. It’s surrendering our wills to the will of God, and as it relates to wholeness, it’s surrendering completely to the lordship of Jesus Christ. I’m not sure there’s any other word, though. Submission? Subordination? Surrender? It may be semantics at this point; they're all counter-human nature.

Yes, someone does lose in the transaction. But as Jesus said, “Whoever clings to this life will lose it, and whoever loses this life will save it.” (Luke 17:33 NLT)

What a loser.

And I’m pretty sure that’s a good thing.


  1. that sounds like a great message. i miss this church so much!

  2. I really appreciated your message this weekend. I know that it was true for me. Instead of humbling myself to God, I was humbled. Great Job, you are such an inspiration!


  3. Thank you Dave for clarifying the words surrender and saved/follow. As a man it would seem that it just doesn't seem so "manly" to give up. And I don't think God created men to give up or not persevere as competition or sports exemplifies. It amazes me that somehow society has taken the image of all Christian men to be some "Ned Flanders" when in fact a real man for Christ stands for justice, truth, perseverence, courage and other characteristics that are really strong and "manly". So many men need to know this and dare I say it women as well as I see instances where the "Christian" women has put the man God wants into a Ned Flanders box.

    I also like the word follows. Again as a man I can understand that word as it means there is a leader and a point of direction. As a result I can be a general, colonel, captain etc in the army of the Lord where Christ is the President. That is something that does not bring shame versus the POSSIBLE effects of the word saved where it makes me feel like I have no reason to use the gifts given by God to use with freedom for God's purpose. Where I am not a participant but a spectator. It is like having the donut shaped life preserver thrown around you and you are like a limp body being tugged along with no choice when in fact God wants you to swim and use your arms around in the pool of life and allows you to swim wherever you want to go except for those times when he pulls on the rope to get you back on course but man that pool is a big pool with lots of great swimming spots!

    Again thanks for the clarification and oh thanks for allowing God to use you in a strong and "manly" way! :D

  4. interesting thoughts in this post. I'm particularly drawn to the words of David Morrow about being a "follower" rather than "saved". I've never heard it put in such a way...

    i look forward to more insights in the coming days...