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What is Surrender to the Lord?
Many Christians wrestle with the term ‘surrender to the Lord’. I used to have great difficulty with the idea of ‘surrender’. So, what does surrender to the Lord mean? It depends on what we read and what sermons we hear. Surrender to the Lord has all kinds of meaning and some of the definitions are:
· Yield ourselves to the Lord
· Submit ourselves to the Lord
· Surrender ourselves to the Lord
· Dedicate ourselves to the Lord
· Re-dedicate ourselves to the Lord
· Consecrate ourselves to the Lord
· Re-consecrate ourselves to the Lord
· Devote ourselves to the Lord
· Sanctify ourselves to the Lord
· Commit ourselves to the Lord
· Give ourselves to the Lord.
Based on these definitions, many Christians are urged to make this complete surrender to the Lord, this total sacrifice to the Lord. It comes in the many appeals to let go and let God take over. Often Christians are told to surrender themselves to full time ministry, surrender themselves to this need or that ministry. The need becomes the goal and not the Lord as the goal. It is an unreal surrender if our surrender is based on our duty or on our obligation. And many Christians find great difficulty to sustain this surrender because we are disappointed or discouraged when we don’t succeed in our ministry work. And we give up.
However, before we can make the proper surrender, we need to understand that there are two types of surrender to the Lord.
1. Old Covenant Surrender
2. New (Bible) Covenant Surrender
1. Old Covenant Surrender to the Lord
Old Covenant Surrender is a surrender we make in order to be considered spiritual. We give up certain things in order to bring us closer to God. It makes ‘surrender’ the goal rather than God as the goal.
Old Covenant Surrender is mentioned in Micah 6:6-7, “With what shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the High God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
Just see how complete this surrender is: The worshipper offers to bring thousands of rams, ten thousand rivers of oil and surrender his firstborn as a sacrifice to the Lord. Yet, Prophet Micah says that God will reject that surrender. That is not surrender at all.
This same Old Covenant Surrender is also mentioned in 1 Corinthians 13:3, “And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.”
It is so astonishing: the worshipper appears so good, so spiritual but he does not have love. He can give away all his money and even let his body to be burnt; still God says that’s not surrender.
2. New (Bible) Covenant Surrender to the Lord
The New (Bible) Covenant Surrender is based on Romans 12:1-2, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
Here, the surrender is based on our heart’s response to the mercies of God. The incentive for surrender is clearly the mercies of God. And what are the mercies of God? It is the daily blessings we have in our daily living eg good relationship in the family, job, health, friends, etc; the special mercies in being supported and healed in our sickness and the spiritual mercies in being saved by Jesus Christ.
The appeal for surrender is the mercies of God. The motive is based on all that God has done in our justification, all that God is doing in our sanctification and all that God will do in our glorification. Because of all these mercies that are poured unto us, we want to surrender not because we have to surrender to Him. We surrender not because we want something from Him but because we already have blessings from Him. We surrender our lives to the Lord as an outflow of our gratitude and thankfulness.
What does the New (Bible) Covenant Surrender to the Lord mean to me? It challenges my heart to respond to His mercies ie His love, His salvation, His compassion, His forgiveness. How should my heart respond? My response is to direct my heart to stay on and on in His Presence in order to let His Perfect love, His unconditional love and His sacrificing love soak into me. Only when I personally experience His love, will I then take the risk of surrendering to LOVE (for God is LOVE).
My gratitude for His love is to open my heart to Him and by a free will thank offering, let Him come:
1. to live in me and
2. to live through me.
By surrendering and letting Him come to live in me, I make Him the centre of my life. As I come to know Him through the Bible, my understanding is renewed and inwardly I am renewed. With inward renewal comes the gradual outward transformation to the likeness of His Son, Jesus Christ. Every time I come to see Jesus anew when I read the Bible, I am being transformed to be more like Him. Seeing Jesus is being changed and being transformed anew. Experiencing Jesus more closely becomes the source of my inward renewal and the starting point of my outward transformation.
By surrendering and letting Him come to live through me, I become a vehicle for His life. My prayer is that He makes me an instrument of His love for others. Thus, I can make the commitment to devote my life for Him to work His miracles in others through me. It is His work not my work. In whatever work I am involved in, it is His ministry not my ministry. So, in helping or comforting others, I must never forget what Mother Teresa says, “Don’t give in to discouragement. No more must you do so when you try to settle a marriage crisis or convert a sinner and don’t succeed. If you are discouraged, it is a sign of pride because it shows you trust in your own powers. Never bother about people’s opinions. Be humble and you will never be disturbed. It is very difficult in practice because we all want to see the result of our work. Leave it to Jesus.” (Contemplative at the Heart of the World, 107) It is His work and so it is up to Him whom He touches. Accordingly, I am convinced that to sustain this surrender to the Lord, I must constantly remind myself to respond in love, in gratitude and in thankfulness to His love.
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