August 30, 2010

The Struggle of Surrender


What are some things that come to mind when you hear that word?  Maybe white flags, hands raised, guns down, the French?

In our American philosophy, surrender is usually something that is associated with the weak-minded and the weak-willed.  Our society prides itself in rewarding the biggest, baddest, and brawniest of persons.  Businesses and wars are run with a “we-will-never-surrender” mentality, and for the most part…it’s worked.

Unfortunately, surrender from a Christian perspective is viewed in the same way.  When we hear a phrase such as “I must surrender myself to God”, it is viewed as a limitation of freedom, fun, or creativity and thus is substituted with rote obedience.  But I think it’s something a lot different.

Surrender is a struggle.

Think about it.  Jesus died to set us free right?  But we are also called to surrender our bodies down as living sacrifices.  To mesh the two, freedom must be seen through a different lens: the struggle to surrender leads to freedom.

The Bible says that Jesus gave himself up for us, surrendering to His Father’s will.  We are called to do the same.  True, biblical surrender of our lives, wills, ambitions, and aspirations seems at first to be extremely limiting.  But there is a second part to this story.

In the proportion to which we surrender ourselves, we get unchained from the slavery of shame, guilt, ‘religious’ rules, and regulations.  The struggle to continuously surrender to God produces in the life of a Christian the increasing ability to live life the way we truly want to, freed from the desire to sin and freed to the desire to ‘put away violence and practice justice and righteousness’.

When surrender is seen as a struggle which results in freedom FROM sin and TO Christ-likeness, it becomes a joy instead of a burden, a love instead of an obligation, and allows us to engage with the true heart of the Gospel.

"Love is an attempt at penetrating another being, but it can only succeed if the surrender is mutual."
      - Octavio Paz

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