Sometimes we think we couldn’t possibly yield to God because it feels like there are too many things we still struggle with. However, what if we are like someone who has fully surrendered to the care of a doctor, but is still full of sickness? Being sick does not nullify our surrender to the doctor’s care.
What is becoming clear to me is that many people have a view of surrender to God that is really law-based rather than gospel-based. Complete surrender under the law has to focus on finding the ability to do everything right. Complete surrender under grace is turning to Jesus for help with everything we are doing wrong.
Here’s an illustration that helps me appreciate the difference between law-based surrender and grace-based surrender. One person has a totally messed-up estate and hears that the King is coming, so he works wildly to get his yard and house cleaned up so that it is all fit for the King. He does not want to be ashamed to invite the King to a full tour of all his land, and every room in his house. Neither does he want to dishonor the King with an unkempt property. He wants to surrender everything that is his to the King so he can be happy with it all.
Another person also has a totally messed-up estate and hears that the King is coming. However, he knows it is hopeless to think that he could possibly clean everything up in order to make it suitable for royalty. He has heard of the King’s love, his grace and mercy, and his power to clean up estates, so he opens the gate and asks the King to come into the mess, the squalor, the darkness, the filth, and take it over. He tells the King that he can have it all, and that he is quite willing to surrender to whatever the King wants to do to clean it up.
Much of my life I have struggled to believe that I am still not “totally surrendered” to God because I keep finding things that are not yet transformed into Jesus’ likeness. That is completely law-based. God is not calling me to “do” for him, but to “receive” from him. Surrender is not reaching a level of self-denial where we are finally able to do all the good things God wants us to do. Surrender is letting God touch everything in our lives with his healing and cleansing power.
One church conflict I have seen many times has been between those who want a church where they can show what good Christians they are, and those who want a church where messed-up Christians can get all the help they need to grow up into the goodness of Christ. In such conflict, the good people are in bondage to their notion of presenting their good behavior to God as a pleasing sacrifice. The not-so-good people are bound to a hunger and thirst for God to do righteous things in their lives because of faith, not of works, to the glory of the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ.
I once had a pastor introduce himself to me as a recovering-Pharisee. I could relate to that. As one who has been a “good boy” my whole life, it was easy to fall into the trap of using good behavior as a means of feeling good about myself. God graciously blew that all out of the water so that the mirage of my goodness could be met by the reality of his goodness.
I can relate to the good-Christians who think they need to try hiding the parts of themselves that are beyond their ability to fix because they can’t appear good enough to please God. They cannot live with what would happen to them if they knew that he saw that mess, if they admitted that mess, and if they brought that mess out into the open so the church could help them. They have no comprehension of the grace of God that comes into messes and cleans them up. They only know that they have to be good in order to be accepted, and so they will be the best good they can be, and fake it in everything else.
The desire to be totally surrendered to Jesus Christ is not fulfilled by cleaning up our lives so we can offer Jesus access to every room of our fixed-up hearts. It is fulfilled by opening up our whole messed-up, dirty, filthy, scary, dark, wounded, broken, sinful, worried, doubting, prideful, lives to the powerful cleansing work of the blood of Jesus Christ and letting Jesus come in to our whole being and do all the cleaning up he wants to do, in every way he wants to do it, for however long he chooses to take to clean up any particular thing within us. Surrender is not surrendering to do all the good things God wants his children to do. It is surrendering our real state-of-being to Jesus so he can carry on to completion all the good things that he has come into our lives to do.
“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)
From my heart,
© 2013 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~ firstname.lastname@example.org
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)