Hi everyone, Rob here.
One of the words and concepts that we like to use in the church is ‘surrender.’ We like to sing,”All to Jesus I surrender, all to you I freely give.” In 12 step groups they like to ask each other, “How’s your surrender?” Unlike the usual sense of the word, surrender doesn’t mean that we come to God with our hands held high expecting to be put into prison! But it does mean that we are giving ourselves over to God and keeping nothing for ourselves. Interestingly, it’s not a biblical word. The Bible prefers the word, ‘submit.’ As in James 4:7, ‘Submit yourselves then,to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
Both words carry the meaning of coming under the authority of God as revealed in Jesus Christ. In our anti-authoritarian age it’s a hard concept for us to wrap our heads around. These days President’s are mocked, ‘For King and country’ is passé, bosses are caricatured as hopeless and horrible in Hollywood movies. Priests, pastors, teachers and parents have to earn respect before they are given any through their titles. Not all of this is bad but it does leave us without references when it comes to authority. This is a fairly normal state of affairs for New Zealanders but for Americans, Brits and others it’s a fairly recent phenomenon.
Jesus Christ carries the title but also walks the walk. He empathises but also acts. The sick are healed, the blind are given sight, the deaf can hear and demons are cast out. Those with titles like Pharisee, Priest or Herod are put in their place through teaching that carries the authority of heaven. The lowly are raised up through that same pronouncement: “The time has come…The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news (Mark 1:15).” His resurrection shows once and for all that he is Lord and God. Satan’s claims to authority are laid to rest in the tomb. And now Jesus invites us to share in his authority. We are immersed in his Spirit and given his name and the keys to the kingdom.
You can see that divided allegiances are no good on this journey. I love my earthly father but if he has my allegiance over my heavenly father I am still a lost son. If my goal is to grow my kingdom through money, wealth and power I will be stuck in a story that is far too small and I, in turn, will shrink into nothingness. If I give way to fear and lose my trust in my King then I trade in spiritual armour for self-obsession and the enemy wins.
Today I feel a bit self-protective, a bit fearful and a bit weary after many weeks of niggly battles. It’s a time to renew allegiances, seek refreshment, stand against fear and fatigue and submit again to Christ and his authority. It’s a time to take my place in Christ; in his life, his joy, his victory and his throne. It’s not a time to try and step away from the war. There is no neutral ground. But to step back from busyness and allow Christ to bring restoration to weary bones is to remember again that to surrender to God is to die with Christ; to pride, to fear, to pain. To submit to God is to say yes to his authority. Then I can be raised with him and know new life in him and in his name.
May you know his restorative power and redeeming grace as you walk with Christ this week.