We've come full-circle, from a place where we do not want to surrender to a place where we know that we must. True faith requires our surrender. It requires that we set aside our self-interest and even our God-interest for something much greater: love.
But we cannot - and should not - pretend that just because we know our need for surrender that we will actually do it. Or that it will be even easier. Truth be told, our churches are full of Christians who want to love God but who haven't yet been able to surrender themselves to loving Him. This is precisely why our churches feel so fragile sometimes, like the very next hardship might just break them.
Believe it or not, this fragility is the sign of our ego. The world tells us we're supposed to develop a robust ego, that we're supposed to think highly of ourselves, that if we would just have more confidence in who we are, we would be better off for it. Everyone would be better off for it. But the church and the life of faith reveals the falsity of this claim because it is in these places where we are supposed to feel our strongest that we feel most fragile, and it is because we have not fully entered these places. We have not surrendered to them.
There is a difference, however, between surrender the way that the world does it and the kind of surrender that God calls us to.
When the world thinks of surrender, it thinks of laying down its weapons, putting its hands in the air, and walking into captivity and defeat. It thinks of giving up. It thinks of admitting to losing. It thinks of bringing shame on itself and living forever in its own failure. No wonder we don't want to surrender.
Christian surrender, on the other hand, is very different. Christian surrender lays down its weapons not because it can't win, but because it realizes it doesn't have to fight. Christian surrender lays down its weapons and falls into the arms of Jesus. Christian surrender gives in. It admits its own fragility and collapses into His tender strength. It thinks of bringing glory to God and living forever in His goodness and grace.
Christian surrender doesn't give itself up; it gives itself over to something greater. It is not intimidated by what seems stronger, but it is drawn by what is good and glorious.
That's what makes it somewhat easier to live in Christian surrender than in the world's kind. We talked last week about how we don't want to surrender, how we don't want to live in the knowledge of our own smallness. But we do want to live in the security of God's bigness. And it is for that reason that we keep pushing ourselves deeper toward the kind of surrender the life of faith requires of us.
Interestingly, surrender takes us on a detour back through a place that we've already been - it takes us back to self-interest, though perhaps briefly.
Our self-interest (wanting good things for ourselves) leads us to God-interest (because He offers us good things). When we realize the good things God offers and how deeply we want them for ourselves, the call to surrender leads us back to self-interest (it would be good for us to surrender, though 'good' means something different here than it previously did). Thus, our self-interest leads us to God-interest, which calls us back to self-interest that then leads to surrender and to God-love.
Isn't it glorious?