No Thanks, I’ll Just Walk (14)
Updated: Nov 13
Preoccupied and Prayerless Series order #14
*See Order Index post for links to all Series content -https://www.trajectoryministries.com/post/preoccupied-and-prayerless-series
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The words submit and surrender tend to be used interchangeably, even in the Christian arena. You will find them in a list of synonyms for one another in any thesaurus, but when used in the context of our relationship with Jesus Christ, the difference between these two words is anything but insignificant.
I have found during my time in ministry that there are many who attend church regularly that believe in the core concepts of Christianity and try to love Jesus in return, yet still feel "disconnected" or "distant" from God. After sitting in church services for months and sometimes years, a crisis will inevitably come or a major life event will rock their world and many of them will simply give up and leave the church feeling dejected and tired of doing all they've been told they need to do to be a "good Christian," but feeling no closer to Christ than when they first began.
Sure, it's possible that there could be unconfessed sin in their lives, but more times than not these individuals have been trying to submit their life to commands rather than surrender their heart to a Savior.
I was writing a lesson for my small group several years ago when I looked up the definitions for submit and surrender. I had never given much thought to the difference between these two words in the context of our relationship with Jesus Christ until that day. What I found helped me to understand why there seems to be so many today who would say they're a Christian, yet have little to no evidence of a walk with Christ in their lives.
We all know that to submit means to yield to governance or authority, but surrender takes this concept to another level. To surrender entails "giving oneself up into the power or control of another." (Merriam-Webster)
When we submit, yielding to the authority of another or permitting ourself to be subject to something or someone, we retain some measure of control in the equation. We can choose at any time not to submit or even what we will submit.
Surrender is a volitional choice to give ourself up into the power of another. It entails a choice to give up full control.
Using the word “into” and not just “to” may seem insignificant, but those two letters are huge when it comes to our relationship with our Savior. When we surrender our life to Him, we don’t simply submit to His authority in our life, we give ourselves up into His power and authority. We literally function in Him as a new creation in Christ.
This is exactly what Paul means when he introduces himself as a bond servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, and set apart to the gospel of God in Romans 1:1. A bond servant enters into the relationship with his/her master voluntarily with the understanding that it’s a lifetime commitment, with no provision for release. It's a volitional choice to give up full control - to give up one's independence and even identity.
Something tragic happened within the church during the 1980's which has led to some ungodly trends that we're still seeing the ripple effects from today. We made the church a pawn in the contest of earthly competition - a competition for popularity, plaudits, platforms and pew sitters. The church growth movement fundamentally deformed Christian culture in America as multitudes of church leaders shifted their focus to the numeric growth of their congregations, to the point that it became less and less important to some church leaders to confirm that those coming forward for baptism and church membership had truly accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior.
Church attendance and serving became optional as more staff was hired to fill those needs. The Word of God was compromised to keep everyone content and money flowing, to keep building projects funded, to build even bigger churches. Like everything else in American culture, church slowly become more about our comfort and entertainment than worshipping a Holy God and functioning together as the Body of Christ.
COVID was an undeniable turning point in the era of the mega church, perhaps even a step closer to the great falling away we read about in Revelation. It is doubtful that any church saw everyone return. Many have seen a permanent drop by 30% or more in attendance.
As Satan's deception continues to permeate the minds and hearts of mankind, the chasm between those who have surrendered their life to Jesus Christ and those who have not will continue to widen - and there will come a day when it will be very evident whether we belong to Him or to this world. It will be as obvious as night and day.
I can't end this post without emphasizing the fact that it is possible to place your faith in Jesus, love Him, serve Him, sit in a church pew every Sunday, even be the one ministering to others, yet not be living a life fully surrendered to Him. As Christ followers, I believe every one of us want to be able to live in the power of Jesus Christ, through the presence and power of His Spirit who lives in us. Unfortunately, I would hazard to say that a vast majority of Christians today are living preoccupied and prayerless, limping along half heartedly submitting to God's commands instead of surrendering everything to their Savior - and then wondering why their relationship with Him seems stagnant or why they have no joy or sense of purpose.
We will never be able to access all that God has stored up for us if we come to Him on our own terms, determined to retain some measure of control. In essence, still struggling with the same lie that Satan planted in the minds of Adam and Eve in the garden - that God is holding out on us. And because we choose to believe Satan's lie, we continue to hold on to a false sense of control instead of surrendering our all to Him.
Trying to live in our own human power is like knowing you're going on a really long journey, very far away. No matter how much you hate to travel or dislike change, staying where you are is not an option. You talk with your travel agent about your destination and you're given two options...
1) You can ride along with a bus tour full of a bunch of sight seeing travelers. They've got money to do what they want and they all speak different languages. The route has already been set and you will be stopping to sight see several times a day, perhaps hundreds of miles off course, but you will eventually get where you're going. They can't tell you how long the trip will be, whether or not you'll be in danger at any point or when you will arrive at your destination, but you can choose to change buses as many times as you want.
2) You can take a jet that will be full of people who are on their way to the same destination as you. Many of them are even trained navigators and their pilot is the pilot of all pilots. He has made it clear that the journey may be bumpy, but He has made provisions for every need you will have along the way. He has gotten people to their final destinations with 100% success, even in the midst of the fiercest storm. The only thing that's required is that you leave everything behind and give the pilot full control, trusting only Him for everything during the journey. But He has promised you will have everything you need and quite a bit more when you get there - and that He will always be with you, every step of the way.
You think about it, look at your travel agent and say, you know what? I've got penty of time and a decent pair of tennis shoes - I think I'll just grab a map and try walking there by myself.
Seems ridiculous, but that's the choice many of us make every day.
Which way have you been choosing to get to your destination?
Will you continue to limp along in your own power, trying to submit certain areas of your life to Jesus or will you surrender it all, the entirety of your life, to Him today?
It is only through our surrender to Jesus Christ that we will find what our soul is longing for. Life in Christ, unhindered.
Lord, I confess that I have been traveling alone and in my own power. I'm exhausted and tired of wandering. I know that I need you and I surrender everything to you right now. Forgive me for living for this world and help me to live each day more fully surrendered to You. Thank you for your forgiveness and grace. Thank you for loving me enough to die for me and for taking all of my sin and all of the baggage I have been struggling to carry for so long to the cross with you, so that I don't have to carry it any longer. I give you my past, my present and my future and I ask you to be my Savior and Lord. In Jesus name, Amen.
I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20
If you prayed this prayer and surrendered your life to Jesus Christ for the first time, I'd like to encourage you to reach out to us through the contact page or by sending an email to email@example.com. We want to encourage you as you begin your new life in Christ and help you find a church family in your area. We are excited for you and look forward to talking with you!