I am a man of many struggles as if that even needs saying. In many ways the Christian life is like a war. Constantly the believer is either in the flesh fighting against God or living surrendered to God within positional truth. One unfortunate fact of this is that while the flesh will eventually lose the war it still wins some battles. Often we have to learn the hard way that while the flesh may seem appealing enough to fight for at the time, it sooner or later mutiny and take us captive. What matters when the flesh wins battles is how we respond. Do we surrender to God freeing us from captivity or do we live as a prisoner of war?
School goes on as normal. When I am in school it is so easy to live as a prisoner of war. In a sense this place in life is miles easier than many of my previous places. I have a room, three meals a day ( one of which I rarely wake up for), a comfortable bed, heat in the winter, good friends, amazing teaching and the list goes on and on and on. All those things make it hard to trust God. You would think that in times of ease relying upon the Lord would be much simpler. At least for me that thought is wrong. In the difficult positions of life it is easy to trust God because more than likely we have nowhere else to turn. In a sense our hand is forced, we have no choice if we want to persevere. On the other hand when life is going smoothly we take the helm from God and attempt to steer things on our own. Of course this usually has the same result as what giving a five year old complete access to a cars steering wheel would; a predictable crash. It is then we find ourselves either turning back to God to help us out of the wreckage or we ignorantly try to get out of it only making things worse.
My mind lately has focused a lot on the idea of surrendering. We hear things like “give it to God” or “Jesus take the wheel” but how often do we take it to heart? The big question for me has been what have I not been surrendering to Him? What aspects of my life am I trying to do things on my own? Why do I fight Him when he is on my side? So I find myself wanting my life and knowledge of God to be impacted not just intellectually but manifested in how I act. How do we completely do this? Should this not be our ultimate goal?
One of the first thoughts that has been really impacting me is kind of an obvious reference that comes from Matthew 16.
Matthew 16:24-27 (ESV)
“Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.”
There is a lot going on in these verses, but one of the main ideas that really grabs me is how prominent the concept of surrendering is in the passage. Christ is essentially saying that to follow Him you must surrender your life. See the world tells us that we are our own person and we should do what we want to do and what makes us feel good, all centered on the flesh. We need to be in control, we are not first mate but captain! In no way is that the case with God. He is either captain of our lives or He is nothing. How much is it really worth to give into the momentary fulfillment of the flesh instead of walking in Christ? Is insulting a person who annoys you, being selfish with your time, seeking a wife or husband on your own terms, avoiding an opportunity to help another person out, or any number of flesh based things really worth more than growing in Christ? Despite what my flesh my say in those moments I argue not. If we want to follow him we must surrender our whole life not just certain aspects of it.
The second thought came as I was in class and is based on Matthew 11(another obvious verse.)
Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV)
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Now I am not an expert on oxen, but you hardly need to be to understand this passage. One of the realities of this verse is that when we walk with Christ we must surrender the yoke of the flesh for His. He does not get rid of the load, but He does make it lighter. The Christian life is hard and it takes work. God could have made it easy and taken all the burdens off of us, but then we would have no reason to keep trusting Him. Being a believer is not something we get overnight or even in a lifetime, which is why we need to constantly surrender every part of our life to Him. What is the point in carrying the heavy yoke by ourselves when now as believers we really do not need to? It is like have one of the most pitch perfect meals you can ever imagine prepared for you and instead desiring to go to McDonald’s. There are just some things you should never do!
The last thought I have been meditating on that I will share is regarding the idea of surrendering is found in Romans 12.
Romans 12:1-2 (ESV)
” I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
We are to be living sacrifices. Again this is not a partial concept but whole. We are to surrender and present all of ourselves to God, not just a portion. Our call in this world is to allow Christ in us to transform the world, not conform to it! There are a lot of mighty implications in that idea. When we do our own thing or live in any manner apart from our position in Christ we are conforming to the world and limiting the testimony and impact Christ wants to have through us.Is dressing a particular way, having certain unhealthy relationships, watching and listening to unprofitable media, or believing unbiblical philosophies really worth more than Him? He renews our mind and worldview so that we can know what is good, what is of Him. All we have to do is LET HIM! Hard theology right? Nothing else. All it takes is to put our feet forward in faith, giving ourselves as well as what we think/ feel fully to Him, and above all surrender. We cannot escape Him, He is God and what He has for us is so much better than what we could ever have for ourselves, so why not surrender?
All in all these thoughts are just ideas that I have been meditating on and pondering. They are not really doctrine or even proper theology, just ideas I think about as I go through my daily life. As much as I try to be above it all I am just as human as any other believer, the good and the bad. The only good any Christian Theist can ever do is allow God to work in and through them. That is all I desire for my life anyway. Christ is the only good that can ever come from me or from you. We are all in this together, as I like to say and because of Christ we are all on a level playing field. We are all on the same team, so may we never limit what He wants to do in or through us from ourselves or others.