A friend of mine once asked a Christian leader from Romania why the church in the Western world had lost its power with God and with man. The Romanian Christian leader answered with what I believe is one of the great root problems within the church. He firmly stated, “The church has substituted commitment for surrender.” He was right. There are many hard working and committed Christians in the church today, but few surrendered ones.
There’s a great difference in the surrendered life and the committed life. The committed life emphasizes what we must do for Christ. The surrendered says we can do nothing. The committed life communicates my accomplishments, but the surrendered life clearly calls for God’s power. The committed life is that of a hard worker, but the surrendered life is that of a slave.
Surrender to Christ basically means that we have lost our will to His will. We have no rights. We have signed our life over to Him. We will go where He wants us to go and do what He wants us to do. We will speak what He wants us to speak and be what He wants us to be. The surrendered life is admitting that Christ has won the victory over our will. It’s allowing Him to accomplish His work in and through us. It’s praying as Jesus prayed, “Not my will, but Thine be done” (Lk. 22.42).
I was once ministering with a group of young people in East Germany. At that time in the history of that nation, it was very dangerous to meet with me. At the close of the meeting, one of them came to me and said, “I came to know Christ some time ago. However, I have lost the joy of what Christ has done in my heart.” We prayed together, and I will never forget the prayer of that young person.
“Take control of my life, dear God,” she prayed, “no matter what the cost.” After I finished praying with that young lady, I looked around and all of the young people were on their knees praying. Everyone of them had the same phrase at the end of their prayer. One prayed, “I surrender to you, God, no matter what the cost.” Each one of them counted the cost and surrendered fully to God. It was a touching moment.
I’ve often heard Christians commit themselves to God in prayer. But what I heard from those East German young people was much more than commitment. It was absolute surrender to the will of God. They were willing for God to take control of their lives no matter what the cost. It did cost them. It cost them their educational opportunities – their future. But they had become slaves of Jesus. Interestingly, this slavery is what made them victorious in their lives.
I once asked Dr. Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade For Christ if there was ever a watershed moment in his Christian life that propelled him into the work that God has given him. He told me, “Years ago, Vonette and I made a decision to become slaves of Jesus Christ. That decision set the course of my entire Christian life and ministry.”
It’s only as we become slaves of Jesus that we experience His victory. It’s only as we lose our will to His will that we find joy in life. It’s only as we die to our abilities that we can appropriate His supernatural abilities. It’s only as we are surrendered to Him that we know His supernatural ability. It’s what the old hymn writer said, “All to Jesus, I surrender. All to Him I freely give.” That’s when victory begins.