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.