For a great many of the folks that I have had the privilege to work with, the smudge on the lens of Christian surrender has made genuine surrender very difficult. For many, when we speak about surrender we immediately think in the language of the world system which is often capitulation. Capitulation is the kind of surrender when we succumb to a force or threat of greater power that forces us to conform. Under threat, by way of external compulsion, we stop resisting and submit ourselves to the dominating force often for self-preservation. This external (often self-imposed) use of power will often lead us to conform our behavior and on some level, we do so begrudgingly.
This outside-in strategy drives us to work harder and utilize a number of sin-management techniques in an effort for self-induced submission. Despite our best effort and work to root out that which we deem as contrary, we are actually walking in the opposite direction of the blessing of what God is doing in us. In this form of violent surrender we are quite naturally performance oriented – we become sin-focused instead of God-focused as we attempt to do violently within ourselves that which only the Spirit of God can truly do from the inside.
Perhaps a more healthy understanding of surrender is the idea of letting go, the giving of oneself freely to God as a gift. This is not an act of compulsion but one of voluntary devotion wherein our entrusting our-self we are in fact offering ourselves to God as a gift in response to the gift of Himself that He gives to us. This response starts in the heart (not in our own strength), and our behaviors will naturally follow our heart.
Love is self-giving, self-emptying by nature
The Greek word kenosis used in the New Testament means the voluntary self-emptying of oneself to be entirely open to Gods will. We see this word in action in Philippians 2:6-8:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing (Kenosis – emptied Himself) by taking the very nature of a servant being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death even death on a cross!
Jesus was the perfect example of surrender. He emptied Himself; He laid down His resume’, His position, and privilege by taking on a human form and living as a human being. It wasn’t the domination of His will by the Fathers will, rather it was Jesus’ voluntary acceptance of the Fathers will, even when that was very difficult. Jesus’ heart beat to the same rhythm as the Fathers and as such, His will was quite naturally to gift Himself inservice of the Father.
So it is with us as we Become Love – becoming more and more of who we were created to be in Christ. The transforming power of the divine affection syncs our hearts more in rhythm with the Fathers. This relieves the heavy yoke of religious obligation and frees us into genuine humility – the laying down of our spiritual / ministry resume’, self-righteousness, and all the things we think that earns us as an act of gift and trust.
You will soon discover that as you become more focused on the Father and less focused on sin, on violently conforming your will and performance that the deep level transformation will happen quite naturally. You will begin to notice that kenosis in response to God’s perfect love opens you up in new ways to experience the peace and rest in God (and His will) in all of life. In short, to surrender to God simply means to accept the Father’s unconditional love and simply respond to that love trusting that the good work the Father started in you, He is faithful to see it on to completion.
being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
- Philippians 1:6