I mentioned last week I’ll be starting a series on Jesus, what He said, why He came, and what He asks of us.
When people ask me the key to learning to walk in freedom, I answer without pausing:
It’s total surrender.
“He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.” Matthew 10:39 (NASB)
Yet my heart aches. I see so little surrender in the people around me.
I became a Christian in college. So did many of my friends. We attended campus ministry together.
The campus ministry I’ve been part of has a strong emphasis on sharing Jesus with the world. And thus, many of my friends and me left college, ready to take on the world for Christ!
Or so we thought.
A good number of these people are no longer even following Jesus.
Some of those that do follow Jesus live a pretty standard American life. Some attend church regularly, some give financially, some are involved in humanitarian and/or evangelistic efforts.
But not many.
I’ve found myself wondering, Why? What changed?
I need to first look at myself.
While I’d like to believe that I live a totally surrendered life, I am self-aware enough to know I have plenty of blind spots.
Self-reliance is always a challenge for me. So is pride. We want what Jesus has to offer. We also want the Christian life to come easily, without sacrifice on our part. We don’t really want to do what Jesus requires of us in order to live the life He desires us to live.
What does Jesus require of us?
A lot. More than we care to admit.
Did you ever notice that Jesus would often try and talk people out of following Him? He said this, as recorded in the gospel of Luke, chapter 14:
If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.
But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’
Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him? And if he can’t, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace while the enemy is still far away. So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.
Does that sound like the gospel of today? Where is total surrender spoken of today?
Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31, 32 NLT)
As I found myself heartbroken over a recent conversation with a friend, I had to stop and pray, Let it begin with me, Lord. Break my self-reliance and my pride. Strip me of the things I cling to that keep me from living a fully surrendered life. All I want is all You have, Jesus.
Let the truth set me free, Jesus, by empowering me to being faithful to Your teachings. Let Your words sink so deeply into my heart that a totally surrendered life naturally flows out of me.
Let it begin with me, Lord.