Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?
Lose your life. Be a loser. Nobody wants to be a loser. Nobody remembers a loser. Who lost the 1988 election presidential? Dukakis. Who remembers who lost in 2004? Kerry. The only losers that I know people have loved was the 108 year lovable losers, the cubs. Now that they’re winners, they will be loved more. Losing means surrendering on the battlefield, submission. Losers in biblical times, if not killed, became what? Slaves.
Never give up, never give in, winning is everything. We seem to hate the participation trophies given now, the world would be better most believe if we went back to rewarding those who succeed, overcome, and conquer all we can, for as long as we can. Surrendering, serving, being a slave, a servant, obeying only if it is acceptable and in our own best interest, seems to be the way. This whole concept of only winning may be what the world prizes most, we may also prize it very much and we might be teaching our kids and grandkids that. Don’t be a slave to anyone we might say or at least imply.
There is an old story about Abraham Lincoln. it is said that he went to the slave block to buy back a slave girl. As she looked at the white man bidding on her, she figured he was another white man, going to buy her and then abuse her. He won the bid and as he was walking away with his property, he said, “Young lady, you are free.” She said, “What does that mean?” “It means you are free.” “Does that mean that I can say whatever I want to say?” Lincoln said, “Yes, my dear, you can say whatever you want to say.” “Does that mean that I can be whatever I want to be?” Lincoln said, “Yes, you can be whatever you want to be.” “Does that mean I can go wherever I want to go?” He said, “Yes, you can go wherever you want to go.”…the girl, with tears streaming down her face, said, “Then I choose to go with you.” (Source: http://www.christianitytoday.com/moi/2000/001/january/lincoln-at-slave-block.html)
No one is sure that that really happened. But if true, it paints a beautiful picture of voluntary servitude. It illustrates how each and every Christian should respond, should surrender to our Master. As Christians we have been “bought with a price”. Jesus sought us and bought us. We were purchased / redeemed by “the precious blood of Christ.” Redemption is the act of purchasing back something that had been lost, by the payment of a ransom.
Jesus came to set us free… but He did not come to set us free to live however we want to live and to do what we want to do. Jesus redeemed us so that we could be free from sin, the Law, Satan, death and Hell. We have been redeemed so we can say “Then I choose to go with you and be your slave Lord.”
But we are to be slaves unto Him. People love the idea of Jesus as “Savior”. We are quick to proclaim that He called us His “friends”. We refer to Him as “The Good Shepherd”. We profess that He is “The Christ”. We call Him “Emmanuel” (God with us). We believe that He is the Son of God. Without a doubt He is all of these things and many more. But ultimately He is Lord!
Many people today refer to Him as Lord but unfortunately this has become nothing more than empty Christian rhetoric. Very few people grasp the concept of Jesus as Lord of their lives. This is a two sided relationship. If there is a Master or Lord, then there must be a slave. There is no doubt that Jesus is Lord. The question is… are you His slave? Is He YOUR LORD AND MASTER? That is a question that I hope you can answer before you leave here today.
Giving yourself completely as a slave to your Lord and master is true worship, it brings God pleasure, it is what we have been designed to be by God, but we must offer ourselves to the Lord as slaves, we must submit, surrender. We got a bunch of church words for this, take up the cross, dying to self, calling it what you want but it is simple God wants all of your life, 100%, not 99% but 100%. So why don’t we surrender to God?
1. We don’t really trust God
Trust is essential to surrender. In our Lincoln example, the slave girl knew she should trust Abe. It is the same thing with us and God. If you can’t trust God then maybe you don’t really know God. Fear can keep us from trusting God but our Bible says love casts out all fear so the more you realize God loves you, the easier it is to surrender.
We know that God loves us, we are always under his watchful loving eye, he cares about every detail of our life, he wants you to enjoy life and have joy and pleasure, he has a good plan for your life, he forgives you and yes he is patient with you. This is all from His Bible. God loves you so much His Son stretched His arms wide on the cross. Surrendering to Jesus brings freedom, trust brings freedom because of His love. He is not a tyrant but a savior, not a boss but a brother, not a dictator but a friend. So why don’t we surrender? Why don’t we trust Him?
2. We can’t let go of our pride.
We don’t want to admit that we are not God, not even close. We want to be in charge of everything, and that goes against God’s will. The serpent in the garden said in Genesis 3:4-5, “You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God. That was the oldest temptation, to be your own God, the Satan loves it when you won’t let go of, surrender your pride, when we want to be the God of our life. The desire to be in complete control of your life simply adds a ton of stress to your life. You want to be the master, not the slave.
A.W. Tozer said, “The reason why many are still troubled, still seeking, still making little forward progress is because they haven’t yet come to the end of themselves.” We’re still trying to give orders, and interfering with God’s work within us. When we don’t get what we think should be our way rather than God’s way, we become angry, resentful, joyless, envious and jealous of others filled with self-pity and simply out we are then a poor Christian witness.
So what happens when we become a slave? First of all recognize that there is nothing passive about it. It is not a fatalistic thing, not is it an excuse to be lazy. Slaves work for the kingdom. Slaves sacrifice their life and yes often suffer in order to change what needs to be changed for His kingdom. It means battling for God’s kingdom. Being cowards, being a doormat, giving up rational thinking is not what God’s desires. He wants you to use your mind, heart and strength that He has given you to make a difference.
Surrendering utilizes and enhances the personality God gave you. C.S. Lewis said, “The more we let God take us over, the more truly ourselves we become – because he made us. He invented all the different people that you and I were intended to be…it is when I turn to Christ, when I give up myself to His personality, that I first begin to have a personality of my own.”
A surrendered slave is an obedient slave. God asks you to do something, you say “Here I am Lord use me.” You can’t call Jesus your Lord and Savior then refuse to obey your master. Slaves obey God’s word, even if it doesn’t make any sense at all. Obedience and trust marked the life of many in our Bible.
Mary expected the miracle without knowing how. Joseph trusted God’s purpose without questioning why his brothers sold him into slavery to Egypt. Abraham trusted God when asked to sacrifice his son. Gideon obeyed when he trimmed his armed force down to 300. Slaves rely on God to work it out rather than relying on themselves to manipulate things to work out the way they think it should happen. No matter what the circumstance, slaves keep Psalms 37:7a in their mind, “Be still before the LORD, and wait patiently for him.”
Maybe it’s time to stop trying harder and trusting God more. Maybe it’s time for us to realize that not being the master of our life and in our life will improve relationships, decrease our competitive desires, cause us to not worry about demanding our “rights” so much, and frankly being selfish and self-centered.
Slaves do not live with the goal, the mantra, the thinking of “I want to live for God but I also want to earn enough money to live comfortable and retire someday.” Where’s the trust in that? Retirement isn’t the goal of a slave. Money isn’t the goal of a slave, constant thoughts about money makes money your God and the number one topic Jesus spoke of was our desire to be master of our finances.
So Jesus showed us what surrender was, what being a slave is. When he prayed in the garden he asked God if there might be another way, but he also told His Father that if this upcoming cross is what you desire God, I will do it, since it is all about your will not mine. Our attitude and prayer should be the same if we too are the Lord’s slave. “Father, if this problem, pain, sickness, or circumstance is needed to fulfill your purpose and glory in my life or another’s, please don’t take it away then. I am yours.” That is a mature Christian slave.
A mature slave is blessed. Job’s buddy Eliphaz got one thing right when he told Job: “Agree with God, and be at peace; in this way good will come to you.” Peace will bring you freedom, obedience gives you power to overcome problems and temptations. Victory comes through surrender. Gideon, Joshua, and more surrendered to the desires and plans of God and won victory. Surrender, being a slave to God, strengthens you in the trials, in your life. William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army said, “The greatness of a man’s power is in the measure of his surrender.”
As we enter into this Christmas season, Mary is a prime example of how God uses totally surrendered slaves to His will. She wasn’t talented, wealthy, or beautiful but God chose her and used her because she was a slave. God uses totally surrendered slaves.
So are you trying to be a master to will you be a slave to the Lord. E. Stanley Jones said, If you don’t surrender to Christ, you surrender to chaos.” Is your life in chaos? Are you a slave to other peoples opinions or expectations, to money, to resentment, to fear, to your own pride, lusts or ego? If so that is not living as God desires you to live so yes you feel as if your life is in chaos.
Being a surrendered slave is the best and only way to live if you want peace rather conflict, peace rather than disappointed, if you desire a full constructive life rather than a life that is self-destructing. So today decide to be a slave for Christ. Right now lay down your past regrets, your present problems, your future goals, your fears, worries, dreams, weaknesses, habits, hurts and hang-ups and really let God be 100% in charge of your life, let Him be the master he was designed to be for you. Do it, commit to it, it won’t be easy, it will be hard, but my what a reward you will receive, what peace, what blessings.
Do what Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, did as a young man. Someone asked him why did God use and bless your life so much? “When I was a young man, I made a contract with God. I literally wrote it out and signed my name at the bottom. It said, From this day forward, I am a slave of Jesus Christ.”
I am thankful on the thanksgiving Sunday that Jesus, my Lord and master, redeemed me with his blood, I pray for His strength, His Holy Spirit, to make me a obedient, submissive surrendered slave to Him and to stop attempting to be the master of my life, what about you?