THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE
THE HEART OF WORSHIP
The essence of worship is surrender. Surrender evokes images of admitting defeat or yielding to a stronger opponent and is usually used in a negative context. For some people winning is everything and surrendering is unthinkable. But surrendering to God is the heart of worship. It is the natural response to God’s amazing love and mercy. We give ourselves to Him not out of fear, but out of love.
Romans 12:1 says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” This act of personal surrender is often called, making Jesus your Lord, taking up your cross, dying to self and yielding to the Holy Spirit. God wants all of your life, not just a part of it.
There are three barriers that block our total surrender to God: fear, pride and confusion. We don’t ealize how much God loves us, we want to control our own lives and we misunderstand he meaning of surrender. You won’t surrender to God unless you trust Him, but you can’t trust Him until you kow Him better. Fear keeps you from surrendering, but love casts out all fear.
How do you know God loves you? 1 Thess. 1:4 says, “We know, dear brothers and sisters, that God loves you and has chosen you to be his own people.” Matthew 10:30 says, “And the very hairs on your head are all numbered.” Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” So we need not fear.
God loves you more than you can imagine. The greatest expression of this is the sacrifice of God’s son for you. Romans 5:8 says, “God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” When we completely surrender ourselves to Jesus, we discover that He is not a tyrant but a savior, not a boss but a brother, not a dictator but a friend. Surrendering to Him brings freedom, not bondage.
A second barrier to total surrender is our pride. We like to be in charge of everything. That desire to have complete control is the cause of much stress in our lives. What most people do not realize is that our struggle is really a struggle with God. The reason why many people struggle is that they have not come to the end of themselves. We are still trying to give orders and interfering with God’s work within us.
When we try to be like God we end up most like Satan, who desired to be like God. When we are faced with our own limitations, we react with irritation, anger and resentment. We want to have it all and do it all, and we become upset when it doesn’t happen. And when we notice that God gave other people some characteristics that we do not have, we respond with envy, jealousy and self-pity.
Surrendering to God is not passive resignation. God often calls surrendered people to do battle with sin on His behalf. And it does not mean giving up rational thinking. God wants to use your unique personality and rather than its being diminished, it’s being enhanced. It is when I turn to Christ, when I give up myself to His personality, that I first begin to have a real personality of my own.
Surrendering is best demonstrated in obedience. To call Jesus Lord means that you want to do whatever He asks you to do. After a night of fishing without catching anything, Peter surrendered when Jesus told him to try again. Luke 5:5, “Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.” Surrendered people obey even if it sometimes does not make sense.
We see Jesus’ power in Luke 5:6-9, “When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. 8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” 9 For he and his companions were astonished at the catch of fish.”
Another aspect of surrendered people is trust. Abraham followed God without knowing where it would take him. Joseph trusted God’s purposes without knowing why circumstances happened the way they did. Hannah waited for God’s perfect timing without knowing when. Mary expected a miracle without knowing how. Each of these people were fully surrendered to God and trusting Him.
You know you have surrendered yourself when you don’t react to criticism and rush to defend yourself. You do not demand your rights and you are not always self-serving. Surrendered hearts show up best in relationships. Money is often the most difficult area of surrender. Retirement is not the goal of a surrendered life. Matthew 6:21 says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
The blessings of surrender. First, you will experience peace. Job 22:21 says, “Submit to God, and you will have peace; then things will go well for you.” Secondly, you will experience freedom. Romans 6:18 says, “Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living.” Thirdly, you experience God’s power in your life. Stubborn temptations and big problems are defeated by Christ.
As Joshua confronts the battle of Jericho, he encountered Christ, and worshipped Him and surrendered his plans. That surrender led to a stunning victory when the walls fell. This is the paradox. Victory comes through surrender to Christ. Surrender does not weaken you, it strengthens you. William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army said, “The greatness of a man’s power is in the measure of his surrender.”
Surrendered people are the ones God uses. God chose Mary to be the mother of Jesus, not because she was talented or wealthy or beautiful, but because she was totally surrendered to Him. When the angel explained God’s plan, she responded by saying in Luke 1:38, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” Nothing is more powerful than a surrendered life in the hands of God.
Surrendering your life is not a foolish impulse, but the most responsible and sensible thing you can do with your life. If not to God, you will surrender to the opinions and expectations of others, to money, to fear, to your own pride, lust or ego. You are free to choose what you surrender to, but you are not free from the consequences of that choice. If you don’t surrender to Christ, you surrender to chaos.
Your moment of surrender might happen when you least expect it. God has a way to call you when you are in the valleys of your life. Paul’s moment of surrender happened on the road to Damascus after he was knocked down by a blinding light. For others, God gets our attention with less drastic methods. Regardless, surrendering is not just a one-time event. The best practice of surrendering to God is making it a daily life-long habit.