Within the Christian world, the idea of surrender has a peculiar twist distinguishing it from its more common definition. When the word “surrender” is used there is usually the idea of conflict between two opposing factions. In the end, one of those groups recognizes their demise and chooses to cease fighting and turn themselves over to their opponents. The central concept is that conflict brings about the surrender.
Within the Christian worldview, surrender is not brought about by conflict (although this is not an entirely improbable possibility). For the Christian, surrender is initiated when the beauty and majesty of God leaves no doubt within their heart and mind that to be ruled by God is better than to rule oneself. The mystery here is in seeing that the motivation emanates from God’s character rather than his power.
When I look at Jesus’ example I see a life surrendered to God, not because God would conquer, but rather because he was allowing himself to be conquered, which is preferable. To put it another way, we are talking about the difference between an enemy and a lover. When one soul gives itself to another, love and passion are what are exchanged. This is the image of the marriage chamber. God’s love for us is intimate and passionate. He does not merely want to crush us, he wants us to be wooed and enthralled with his majesty and utter beauty.
It can be uncomfortable for us to think of God in this way, but that is exactly the image we are given in the bible. Jesus has returned to his Father’s house to prepare a place for us. Too often, this “us” is understood in the plural. However, Jesus is described as the bridegroom. He will return for his bride, singular. We who believe have become a part of the one bride who Jesus died to redeem and purify. Therefore, the language of the scriptures is that of lovers and marriage.
As we continue our journey towards Easter morning remember that God’s love for you is not academic. It is real, personal and unquenchable. Jesus loves us and he is not indifferent to our circumstances. Why would we not want to give ourselves to him.
One of my favorite activities growing up was getting a new Lego® set and putting it together. It would not take me very long to do it, but once I was finished I didn’t really want to play with it. I just wanted to look at it and make sense of how all these different blocks and pieces were able to make this car or house or airplane. One of the realities I discovered about myself in the process was that I was not very creative. I loved following the instructions and seeing the final product, but the idea of taking the pieces apart and creating something original was not within my grasp.
Continue reading “Lent Day #7 | Transformation”
Our pastor has been preaching a series of sermons on the difference between being a fan and a follower of Jesus. This Sunday we looked at the difference between having a knowledge of Jesus and have an intimate relationship with Jesus. While you need to have a knowledge of Jesus in order to have an intimate relationship, you can have knowledge of Jesus and completely miss the intimacy. The Scripture reference was the story of the Sinful Woman that came and washed Jesus feet with her tears and hair. This is a powerful story. (Read it here.)
As Pastor David preached he said something that was funny at first glance, but after I gave it more thought really made me think. Am I “Pro-Jesus” or am I with Jesus? I will be splitting the proverbial hair here, but it just struck me odd after thinking about it. It can be so easy to be satisfied with being around Jesus, being near Jesus, being close to Jesus that we never push forward to being with Jesus. The idea is that we can be in the same room, but never engage in the conversation.
I don’t want to just be someone who is known for liking what Jesus stood for. Or knowing everything there is to know about Jesus. I want to be known by him. This is the idea that Paul is getting after when he says that there will come a moment when all of this will change.
12 Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. (1 Corinthians 13:12, NLT)
There it is. God’s way of knowing will becoming my way of knowing. That is going to be a glorious day. When we are “Pro-Jesus” we are only interested in the exterior. How does this look? What do other people think? This was the problem with the man who invited Jesus to have a meal with him. He invited Jesus, failed to pay customary courtesy and then becomes indignant when another, the sinful woman, outshines the host, even when it was completely inappropriate. Simon the Pharisee missed out on the greatest opportunity of his life, and for what? He missed it because he was looking at the wrong person.
The sin of religious piety and of false humility will always lead to a skewed perspective of how things ought to be. As soon as the woman came in and began to worship Jesus, because that is what we have to call it, the “holiest” man in the room had this thought, “If this man [Jesus] were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner” (Luke 7: 39b, ESV). And, as if on cue, Jesus answers the mans thoughts and puts him in his place.
The bottom line is that we should never be satisfied with being mere acquaintances with Jesus. We should be willing to go the ends of the earth for Jesus. Even if, or better still, especially when it costs us our dignity and self-respect. The sad reality is that for many of us who claim to be Christians, if Jesus asks us to give up our dignity and self-respect, we would rather have him move along until he comes to his senses.
We can know how deeply our commitment is rooted when we consider how far we are willing to go to show our devotion and faithfulness to God and his Son. Until we know how far we will go, we will not truly know or understand how valuable Jesus is in our lives.