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The cost of not surrendering

Jesus was uncompromising in what he asked of his followers – complete surrender. Read what he says about a narrow road and taking up your cross and you’ll find little wiggle room. He was a radical and he asks us to be radicals too. We can ignore his words or disobey, but if we’re serious follower…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
Jesus was uncompromising in what he asked of his followers – complete surrender. Read what he says about a narrow road and taking up your cross and you’ll find little wiggle room. He was a radical and he asks us to be radicals too. We can ignore his words or disobey, but if we’re serious followers, we’ll pay attention to what he said.
In yesterday’s blog, I discussed the cost of surrendering. But there is a cost in not

surrendering as well. Here are four:

Wrong side of the battle
What if you’re fighting for the wrong thing? Confederate soldiers may have thought they were fighting for a moral cause when in reality, they were fighting for slavery. Everyone would have been much better off if they’d surrendered a lot earlier.
What if you as a Christian who insists on calling the shots (instead of turning the steering wheel of your life over to God) are a kind of a slave and are fighting for that way of life? What if you’re clinging to something you’d be better off without?
In the case of those of us who have chosen to make Jesus Lord, when we don’t surrender, we’re also faced with the possibility that we’re hypocrites. We say that he gets to call the shots in our life, but we stubbornly cling to the steering wheel. People look at us and they say, “If that’s a Christian, I’ll pass.”

Yes, surrender requires trust, but you were supposed to have already settled that issue when you asked God to take over your life.
Settling for a substitute
The cost of not surrendering is that you’ll settle for a cheap substitute, never embracing the real thing. “Having a form of godliness but denying its power.” (2 Tim. 3:5) The cost of not surrendering is that you’ll continue on in bondage while claiming to be free and you will eventually grow cynical. That’s a sad place to end up. If you’ve made the mental jump to an understanding that Jesus should be your Lord, you’re stuck in no-man’s-land until you’ve taken the step to back up what you know to be true with your action.
You can’t avoid choosing

The paradox is that while we were made to live free, to get there we have to give up our freedom. We have to make the counterintuitive transaction. Give your life away and you get it back. As Bob Dylan sang, “You’ve got to serve somebody.” So the question is not, “will I surrender?” but “who will I serve?” Choose not to surrender, not to trust and you’re really just choosing to trust yourself as opposed to others. And hey, if you’re happy with where your life is headed, then more power to you.

Surrender is almost always optional. You can string the miserable process out yet another day. Many do and have developed an array of delaying mechanisms that enable them to postpone the day of reckoning. You can keep backing up, allowing yourself to be painted in a corner. And ultimately you can cry out with all those who have ever identified with Patrick Henry, “Give me liberty, or give me death!” Only, in this case, because Jesus wants to set you free, you are actually choosing bondage over liberty.

Of course choosing not to surrender will keep you in a state of brokenness indefinitely, but for some people, it still beats giving up control. It beats saying “yes” to something you are uncertain about. It beats having to trust.

Some people will spend their lives staving off the decision to surrender, failing to realize that in the end, we all surrender to something. Surrender is inevitable. Before you eventually surrender to death, you may surrender to a disease, or divorce, or loneliness.

We need to learn how to wave the white flag of surrender. Better to surrender to someone who loves you and has your best interests in mind. You need to reach the end of your own resources and realize that if God doesn’t show up, you’re finished.

Comments (9)

  • I agree with u Seth,i had to Surrender morethan once,due to my actions and my fellings inside.
    But by the grace of God and his mercy ,each day i ask for his Forgiveness of my sins.At times i know just the thought of thinking i have sinnned.
    But i know God is a loving God and his mercy and forgiveness is everlasting,and my Faith grows Stronger everyday.
    Thank u for your continued Inspirational words,and thank God for inspiring u.
    Thank God and thank u.

  • Great post.

    It’s interesting that choosing a “non-choice” position generally leads to choosing the wrong side.

    This reminds me of a quote I saw this morning by William Penn: “Right is right, even if everyone is against it; and wrong is wrong, even if everyone is for it”

    It seems that one of the modern misunderstandings of Christian missionaries is that we are attempting to “force” our religious beliefs on people, when in fact we are providing the opportunity to choose by demonstrating to others what their choices are.

    I guess it irritates some people to think that they may have to make a choice.

  • I think you may be Pastoring me via e-mail. I felt the Lord in your words.. You’re an effective blog’r.. Thank you

  • wow … super. Great insights. That point about settling for a substitute really is true. I wonder why it’s so hard to trust God. By the time we reach our 40s, most of us have done a great job of screwing things up on our own.

  • Thank you Scott! I just finished reading a book entitled
    “REVOLUTION in World Missions” and this year the Lord has been bringing people who are challenging me to continue to step outside the “comfort zone.” In the past I had criticized those that clung to “traditional normal” thinking but see that there are still whole areas that I need to step further out on…like Peter in his boat. We have been so “conditioned” by the world’s way of doing things that we need the boat rocked to wake us up! I thank God that He is the One that placed this holy un-rest inside of me at birth and in the face of others telling me I was a “rebel” (that is what happens when you are mis-directing His call) that He has placed my feet back on Solid Ground and is directing my eyes up and on Jesus Christ. I now know alot of what was deceiving me was hell-sent to hinder or abort God’s holy mission for my family YET God has allowed these things to strengthen and toughen me! Nothing is wasted as these are now testimonies to what He can do!

  • Seth as i was reading your series on surrending it brought me back to a message my dad preached in 1980. The message my dad preached is the same one your writing about. Living a surrended life is hard to do but well worth it in the end. I have decided to full surrender my life to christ and since then my life has been so much better. Its been a whole lot less drama free. I am now following in my dads footsteeps and starting my own ministry. I enjoy reading your post keep up the good work.

  • Thanks for saying so, Richie. So glad to hear about your call to minister.

    Carol was right in challenging us with her comment yesterday, “I don’t think surrender is a one off. I guess you can have a majorly significant moment that changes everything, but I think it is more incremental, little by little as the days progress.”

  • Thanks Seth for the clarion call. I’m increasingly convinced (for me) professional Christianity with the attendant themes is toxic. I’m moved to action by battles that are clear. Surrender is a daily choice since the cracks of compromise can easily show up with a little stress.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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