In a world that tells you to refuse surrender at all costs, Jesus asks you to give up everything: to surrender not only your material belongings, but also your heart and your life.
Surrender comes to the forefront of Scripture in verses like Matthew 5:8, which commands us to “be perfect as [our] Heavenly Father is perfect.”
Doesn’t this verse seem frustrating? Perfection, in modern society, has almost always come down to performance. Think about it: reeling in the perfect catch, throwing the perfect curve ball, marrying the perfect man or woman, making the perfect meal, the list goes on. For many of us, perfection can be an idol. And it goes further than seeking earthly prizes. Don’t some of us also crave titles in Christianity? To be the best prayer warrior, the most passionate worshipper, the one with the most highlighter marks in our Bible. To please who? The One who is worthy? Or those around us? Yikes. You see, yearning to be perfect leads to pride – and that’s one of the reasons this verse can be so troubling. Perfection shouldn’t be at the center of the Christian’s heart. Christ should.
Plus, why does God demand perfection out of people whom He knows can never be perfect? Is He simply asking us to strive for perfection? No, it goes deeper than that. Being perfect, according to God, is not performance-based. It simply calls for a willingness to surrender. Surrender that ugly, selfish, prideful, hate-filled you to the only One who can change it. Your parents, grandparents, spouse, best friend, boyfriend or girlfriend can’t change that in you. It is a conscious decision on your part to submit fully to Him who can create something new in you.
And surrender is not a once-and-done thing. It is a daily decision to give our lives back to the One who first breathed life into us. Surrender means giving things, ideas, ultimately yourself up to God and giving Him the freedom to work in You. Often, what may be hardest for us to surrender, God turns around and gives us in HIS abundance. For example, take a student’s desire for academic intelligence. The student may become so obsessed with human intelligence that straight-A’s quickly become an idol. Straight-A’s are NOT wrong. Obsession with them is. Surrendering an obsession with academic intelligence allows God to fill that student up with His eternal wisdom. He willingly offers these gifts to us, but sometimes our desire to hold onto what we already have blinds us from seeing the incredible gifts he has to offer.
Challenge: Remove all distractions and, for 10 minutes, listen to Holy Spirit’s voice. See what he says to you – what He would have you surrender. I find that our Father wants us to surrender all of ourselves, but we aren’t always sure what that looks like. Make a list of things, ideas, etc that you hear from Holy Spirit AND are willing to surrender to the Lord, whether it be Netflix, food, the gym, intelligence, selfishness, negativity, pride. (Again, not all of these things are wrong, unless your life revolves around them.)
Make a choice to surrender all of yourself – including all of your obsessions – to Him every day, and watch as He begins to turn you, more and more, into His likeness.