Can you talk about surrender? What does it look like in our daily lives? What does it mean to “take up our cross and follow Him”? What kind of difference would our lives make if we lived Galatians 2:20 and died to ourselves, and lived unto Him fully? Do you have any examples of times you’ve done this in your own lives?
Surrender is really another word for submission, and is probably the one word that will get the most people mad. For the sake of the rest of this writing, I will use the word submission.
Submission is maybe one of the greatest of all Christian commands. I can say this, because all things we are instructed to do from the time we first hear about the Lord’s sacrifice, to the receiving of it, to the walking it out, come down to this one thing. True love, submission. Following the Spirit, submission. Being part of a Body, you guessed it, submission. God requires submission for every believer, but why?
The world would have people think it is because God is a control freak. He wants control and for some reason lost control and demands His sheeple to be back under His control. Some think it’s the way religious leaders keep people under their power. Certainly many people with evil intentions have distorted God’s design of personal submission in order to build their own kingdom. However, just because some people do wrong, or think wrong, doesn’t mean that something becomes inherently wrong. Power is not bad, as long as it’s controlled. Passion is good, in the right context. Marriage is one of the most wonderful covenants we have, though it can be and often is abused. But we know not to throw out the baby with the bath water, don’t we?
You mentioned the scripture found in Luke 9:23. It says, “And He was saying to them all, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.’” You asked what it means to do this. I point to the full context of this verse. If anyone wishes to follow Him, they must deny themselves. First there has to be a desire to follow God. Though this seems like a basic first step, it’s one many trip over. They want to follow their own path, not His. That desire, if real, will drive a person to the next important thing. Submission!
Denying yourself and taking up your cross are one in the same. What the Lord is pointing to here is Himself. God’s plan for His life was the cross and Jesus knew that. He submitted His own will to this (not My will but yours) long before He ever went to the cross. What Jesus did was make His entire existence about what God was calling Him to. Have you ever wondered why the Word says, “Many are called, but few are chosen”? It’s because God calls out people, but “chosen” happens when one has yielded themselves to that call.
Recently, while spending some time seeking Him, God started revealing to me things in my life that were not wrong or sinful, but were areas that kept me from fully diving into what He has for me to do. I was surprised because I thought I had been doing pretty good. The truth is, I was doing pretty good, but God isn’t ok with us being pretty good. He wants to make us outstanding. Now, this isn’t bondage to me because He gives me the option. But truth is truth, better only happens the way better happens.
One day my grandfather was sanding porch spindles when he was building a deck. He was a remarkable carpenter who had been trained by an old school carpenter years ago. These spindles he was sanding were typical spindles you could buy at any home improvement store and I had seen many people use them over the years including myself. What I had never seen is someone hand sanding them. He made this statement to me from something he had been taught, “The paint job will only be as good as the sand job.” Now most people would never know this detail, they’d never pay attention. But this extra detail, one that required sacrifice of time and labor, made his porch more excellent. It was something that separated my grandfather as a master builder. God is a master builder.
When the Lord showed me those things about myself, He showed it to me like this. I saw an unfinished stone sculpture, one like you’d see in a museum. Everyone of those begins as a block of rough stone but with great care and labor the artist chisels off one chunk after another until that block of hard stone can appear as fair and smooth as skin or cloth. God is taking time to make us a perfect specimen, but if we stones fight back or resist, we’ll never be worthy of display.
In Ephesians 1:18 Paul said, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.” Pay attention to the last part of this scripture, it’s one commonly misunderstood. Notice it says, “the glory of His inheritance.” What Paul is talking about is that the Christian should understand that when we know and act out who Christ has made us to be, we are His inheritance. We are the trophy that God gets. We are the sculpture that has been masterfully carved by Him that He displays for all of creation to see. This does not happen in who we are, but what He through our submission makes us to be! Wow!
To sum all this up, dying to ourselves is a daily thing and to specifically answer your question on what would this look like, it would look like a church that is without spot or blemish. The kind that Jesus will be looking for when He returns. God doesn’t want garbage. He is taking what sin made ugly and building masterpieces. The real question is, will we allow Him to do it in us?