Jesus gave us the best example of this type of surrender in the garden of Gethsemane.
“And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.”
Jesus, Mark 14:36 (KJV)
Jesus was fully man and even though He emptied Himself (Philippians 2:6-8), Jesus never ceased to be divine/God while He was on Earth.
Before His arrest, we see Jesus fervently praying to God the Father. Showing the full extent of His humanity, He asks God if what is about to happen can be avoided. Rather than stopping there, Jesus shows us true surrender by declaring that He wants God’s will (His death for the sins of all) to be done, not His (not experience a horrific death in crucifixion and even more so, endure separation from the Father).
How can we as followers of Jesus, exercise this kind of surrender on a moment by basis?
In our own strength, no matter how strong willed we are, it is impossible to live a life of continual surrender. If we were to rely on our own strength to do so, it’d only be a matter of time before we slip back into our old ways and try to be in control of our own lives , unwilling to acknowledge that it’s impossible.
Knowing that we should be better than what we are, trying hard to fulfil that expectation, failing miserably at keeping it up and feeling the enormous guilt that follows, then repeating it all over again: is that the life any of us want to live? I doubt anyone would say yes!
The only way we can do this is if we continually, and I mean every moment of our lives, rely on the Holy Spirit to remind us who Jesus is, what He has done, the example He set for us and then let Him (the Holy Spirit) take charge of our thoughts, words, actions and attitude and direct them the way He wants to. Because He does what Jesus tells Him to, we can be certain that we’ll be all right.
It’s one thing to accept Jesus as our LORD, it’s another matter entirely to let the Holy Spirit reign over/in us.
Yes, it’s challenging and it’ll be frustrating (who wants to willingly give up their free will and autonomy), but if we keep letting the Holy Spirit have His way in us without walking away, I cannot begin to tell you how radically different we’ll become/be, how we’ll reflect Jesus like never before.
While salvation in Jesus is a free gift from God and not a result of our works, don’t think for a moment that walking on the straight and narrow is easy or something that automatically happens to everyone who calls on the Name of the LORD!
“Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”
Paul, Philippians 2:12 (KJV)
Paul challenges us to work out our salvation with a reverent fear of God and trembling at the thought of what life without God is like, both here on Earth and for all eternity!
Need I remind of you these words that Jesus spoke of people who think they are Christians, when in reality, they aren’t?
“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
Jesus, Matthew 7:22-23 (KJV)
Unless we know Jesus and He knows us, unless there is a genuine and ongoing relationship between us and Jesus, we cannot live the life of surrender I have been writing about, let alone have the assurance of spending eternity with Him in heaven.
How can we know Jesus and be in a genuine relationship with Him?
Clearly, the criteria is not regular Church attendance or even good works in His name.
I believe there are a few things we need to consider, if we are to do our part in building this relationship.
Deal with sin
We all have sin in our life that we need to deal with.
Sin, if left unchecked, can have a devastating effect in our life – in our relationships with one another and more importantly, our relationship with God.
To brush it as nothing serious or to pretend it’s not there, is dangerous.
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”
1 John 1:8-10 (KJV)
So, if there is something in your life that you know is causing you harm and interfering in your relationship with God, connect with a brother or sister you trust and ask them to help you in breaking free from it.
While having an accountability partner helps, we must reach out to the LORD and ask the Holy Spirit to help us to truly be delivered from sin.
Study the Word
Notice I said study, not read the Word. Anyone can read, but it takes divine help to overcome laziness, cultivate discipline and have a passion to truly study the Word. In order to understand what I mean, let’s look at God’s instruction to Joshua.
“This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.”
Joshua 1:8 (KJV)
God made it clear to Joshua that without God’s Word, he would fail. The same is true for us today. So, let’s spend time in the Word, studying it, meditating on it, memorising it, so that we too may be prosperous and successful in every area of our life.
Praise and prayer
We can learn much from what Paul says in his letter to the Thessalonians.
“Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
Paul, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (KJV)
Praising God and spending time in prayer are two sides of the same coin.
Many Christians treat God like He is some sort of a divine ATM, expecting Him to give them what they want, when they want.
We must learn to praise Him, choose to praise Him, for who He is and for all that He has done, is doing and will do. This too we cannot do in our own strength and need the help of the Holy Spirit to do.
Jesus taught us how to pray (Matthew 6:9-13). I am not saying that we should repeat that prayer like some sort of formula, rather use that as a model when praying.
We must always have a desire for God’s Kingdom to grow (more people come to know Him) and for His will to be done and only then, should we present our own needs (not just ours, but also for the needs of others). When making your requests, always remember that we must want God’s will to be done, not ours.
God knows what is best for all of us.
I believe that to serve is to give and to give is to serve, which is why I have combined the two. I am not referring to reluctant serving/giving, but in the manner that Jesus Himself exemplified.
“Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
Jesus, Matthew 20:28
Jesus served and ministered to others, rather than waiting on others to minister to Him. In the same manner, we ought to serve/minister to others as well. We must be willing to give up our time, our finances, our comforts, whatever is necessary, to put others first, just like Jesus did.
“Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.”
We can say we have lots of faith but unless that faith is expressed in action (works) that glorifies God and blesses others, our faith means nothing.
I’m not only referring to being a part of the local Church ministry or mission trips, but serving like Christ everywhere – at home, at work and in the community.
Again, without the Holy Spirit, this is impossible.
If we humbly admit to the LORD that we cannot be the Christian He wants us to be without His help and call out to Him, then we can hold on to His promise that He will answer.
Why? Because He really wants to have relationship with us!
“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”
Jesus, Luke 9:23 (KJV)
For anyone who has ever described Christianity as a crutch for the weak, they clearly don’t understand that it’s much harder to deny oneself the many pleasures of life so as to glorify God, than it is to indulge in every desire possible to please oneself.
Jesus calls us as Christians to go on a challenging journey, but we never walk alone, for He is with us always, every step of the way.
God bless you.Thank Sri 🙂