I’ve been pondering something lately so I thought I’d let you all in on it just in case you’re interested. There has been a subtle change in terminology over the years when describing a relationship with Jesus. Let’s define what we’re actually discussing here. I’m talking about an invitation-only relationship with the Creator, Sustainer, and Lord of the entire universe. Let’s just say that up front so there won’t be any confusion as we move along, ok?
What I’ve noticed is that everyone these days is talking about “accepting” Jesus or “making a commitment” to Jesus or, in some cases, “rededicating my life” to Jesus. Now don’t get me wrong. I think I understand what people are trying to say when they use terms like this, but I also think that there is a growing problem with using these terms.
Do you remember the old hymn “I surrender all?” There is a certain gravity to that expression, isn’t there? I mean, “surrender” is not a term to be used lightly. It comes from a context of war or battle where one side is clearly superior and has demonstrated that fact on the battlefield to the point that the other side, unless they just want to get completely destroyed, must decide to “surrender” to the victor of the battle. So when we say that we “surrender” to Jesus what we are actually saying is that we give up. We acknowledge that He is clearly superior and He has demonstrated that fact on the battlefield of history. So unless we want to be totally destroyed, the only clear choice for us to make is that of “surrender.”
The main thing to understand here is this: there are always terms to a surrender. And here’s the kicker…the victor always gets to set the terms. Can you imagine the audacity it would require for the leader of an army that had just been decimated in battle to walk up to the victorious Commander and say, “I realize that you are clearly superior in this battle and you have won. So here is what I would like to propose. I will commit to serve you and obey you as long as it fits my current lifestyle and preferences. However, as soon as you require something of me that I feel is too difficult or uncomfortable, I may just decide not to do it. In fact, why don’t you just let me decide exactly how far this ‘commitment’ of mine will go. I’ll let you know as we proceed.” Can you envision what might happen to this guy? I can…and it would most likely be quite unpleasant.
Well, that is exactly what many of us have done with the Victorious Commander of life’s greatest battle. We have looked at God’s Son, after all He has accomplished on our behalf, and we have attempted to set the terms of our surrender. This just doesn’t work, folks. When we surrender, JESUS SETS THE TERMS! We don’t have any say in the matter. We must come to Jesus on His terms, not ours. That’s what it means to surrender. It means that we sign our names to the bottom of a blank sheet of paper, hand it to the LORD, and say, “Thank you for saving me. Write whatever you desire on this sheet of paper and I’ll do it. You’re in charge.”
Romans 12:1-2 says this: “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.”
The only trouble with a living sacrifice is that it keeps trying to crawl off the altar.