We have said that our primary goal is to become more Christlike - this is the "new you" we are aiming for with these sessions. This pursuit requires that we develop certain spiritual disciplines which we have been studying. So far we have looked at:
- Intimacy - developing a closer walk with God.
- Simplicity - removing and reordering those things that tend to spoil our intimacy with God.
- Silence and 4. Solitude - which is learning to be still and listen or hear what God says once we detach from the world in order to draw near to Him.
One of the more difficult disciplines to learn is the 5th in the series and the one we will be looking at in this session - the discipline of surrender.
So, what does surrender to God mean? Releasing our grip or hold on our rights, plans, dreams and putting these into God's hands. For example, Not my will, but your will be done. Not my plan, dream, rights, but Your plans, visions, righteousness be done.
Surrender is the most difficult discipline because it goes against our most powerful drive - self-interest. How then, do we actually surrender to God? What method do we use to accomplish this?
1. Study Christ
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
- Hebrews 12:2
We need to study His life not simply to know the facts of it, but rather to imitate Him. Paul gives us some practical information concerning some things required by the discipline of surrender:
3Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,
- Philippians 2:3-5
Note 4 things:
- Do nothing from selfishness or conceit. (vs. 3)
- With humility lift up others before self. How to do this? Listen instead of talk. (vs. 3)
- Do not only look out for self. (vs. 4)
- Look out for the interests of others. (vs. 4)
These are things that Jesus did as He modeled surrender for us.
5Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
- Philippians 2:5-11
- He released His grip on His position.
- He emptied Himself of power.
- He became not just a man but a poor, lowly servant of a man.
- He accepted a cruel, undeserved death - total surrender.
And so, the first step toward surrender is the study and imitation of the One who perfectly accomplished it.
... so we study Christ, then we...
2. Compare ourselves to Christ
What does comparing ourselves to Him mean and how does it cultivate surrender within ourselves?
For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
- Hebrews 12:3
The next time you feel unfairly criticized, feel discouraged because of your burden, are afraid to give up something pleasant and comfortable - think of Him and compare your situation to His. In other words, keep Jesus as your standard. All other human examples are driven by the instinct to survive. Only Jesus modeled perfect submission. While we, and others, seek to preserve our lives - He came to lay His down.
When we compare our lives to His (not ours, not sports or other heroes) and imitate His life... When we do this, it gives us strength to carry on our own Christian lives even when we grow weary.
3. Let go
Releasing your grip on things you want to possess or control frees you to be in submission to God. It is the effort to "hold tightly" to your life and your goods that exhausts and enslaves you. Letting these things go by submitting them to God is what frees us.
24Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.
- John 12:24-25
True life (freedom) can only be found in submission to God. The question, therefore, is, "How do we let go, how is it done in practical terms?"
5Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
6In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
7Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord and turn away from evil.
8It will be healing to your body
And refreshment to your bones.
- Proverbs 3:5-8
Practical ways to let go/surrender
1. Let go your possessions
Acknowledge before God in prayer that all of what you have actually belongs to him, you are only a steward.
2. Let go your desire for a position
Release your hunger for recognition, benefits and advantages to God. Begin to find your security, value and identity in Him only.
3. Let go your plans
Of course, we have to make plans but be ready and patient when God changes them. Not becoming angry and discouraged when plans are changed is a clear and sincere way of demonstrating that we have let go the control over our plans.
4. Let go your people
Enjoy your family and friends but realize that they are only temporary. Give them and your hopes for them over to God, transfer the responsibility for their lives and happiness over to God.
The rewards of surrender are the surprises that God has in store for you when you surrender to Him. The greater the struggle to surrender, the greater the surprise.
- On a scale of 1 (very relaxed) to 10 (very controlling), where would you be positioned? What positive/negative effects has this had on your life?
- What would be the equivalent of "Jesus emptied Himself" for you? What would emptying yourself mean in your life?
- How are you most/least like Christ?
- Describe a person you know who is most like Christ and what trait you most admire about them.
- What do you think Mike means when he says, "The greater the struggle to surrender, the greater the surprise"?