I surrender all! I lay it all down! I will sacrifice everything! I will die for you JESUS!
When we get together in our massive stadiums, comfortable churches or youth/young adult ministries we sing about sacrifice, surrender and death to self with gusto and passion. And…. most of us think we really mean it. These songs ARE great and beautifully written. One of my newer favourites is White Flag on the Passion 2012 CD. It’s stirs up images of 1000′s of sold out young adults waving white flags, hand over their hearts, all ready to DIE. (any leader would love to tweet that!)
Okay, let the fantasy bubble burst for a minute and let’s get real. How much do you REALLY have to sacrifice, surrender or die to self? How is taking up your cross and following Jesus really played out in most of our lives? Have you ever:
- been imprisoned for your faith
- been seriously persecuted
- lost someone you love because of their faith
- live without your basic needs met
- truly suffered (suffering doesn’t include not having an iphone 4S)
A.W Tozer suggested – “Christians don’t tell lies – they just go to church and sing them.” That’s a little harsh! People don’t know what they don’t know and we talk, live and sing songs in our present understanding of those words.
But once your feet land on the mission field, all of a sudden you have a tiny (and by tiny, I mean miniscule) awakening about some of the core realities of living out your faith. Your white flag of surrender may be waving half mast when:
1. The power goes out and you have no internet access (this is a biggy for a lot of people – in fact, reactions can rank up there with a death in the family)
2. No one cares about your previous accomplishments, ministry involvement or leadership position. As one missionary told me, “you become a BIG FAT ZERO.” - Hmmm, lose your life to find it, do I have to?
3. People tell you you’re fat when you weigh over 110 lbs. Are you still singing?
4. People point out all the zits on your face and say you should see a doctor right away.
5. You sweat from morning till night.
6. You live a bad hair life.
7. You friends and families’ lives go on without you, birthdays, anniversaries, graduations and births. ”I surrender all?”
8. You are lonely, and unhappy and you feel like you are the only person on the planet.
9. Your bed is a little hard.
10. The smells….. toilet aroma, garlic, rice, garbage.
11. You don’t have loads of money. Sound like fun yet?
12. You try to order something and no one understands you.
13. You lead a Bible study or preach and no one says – “wow that was awesome”
14. You end up sitting on a toilet all night with a bucket in your hands.
Oh I could go on and on. And most of these things are really just minor discomforts and not truly suffering. The point is, until we have to give up a few of the comforts of home, we really don’t understand sacrifice at all.
Sacrifice, surrender and dying to self are essentials to becoming all we were designed to, but most of us RUN from anything that looks remotely like it. Let’s be honest we LOVE comfort don’t we? Paul said it beautifully in Philippians 2
1-4If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.
5-8Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.
9-11Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father.
So friends I encourage you today to embrace a little discomfort and resist the temptation to complain. If we are willing to step out and risk our white flags of surrender will become more than a lyric.