By Sarah Andrews
All to Jesus I surrender,/All to Him I freely give. . . . More like the Master I would ever be . . . Trust and obey, for there’s no other way/to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
You’re probably familiar with these lyrics. We sing them with reverence and good intentions. However, I’m not certain I’m always focused on the words of the songs. Of course I want to be like Jesus; He was perfect! He was praised of God: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).
Since Jesus is the quintessential standard, He’s the one I want to be like. But . . . am I really ready to surrender all to make that happen? I would love to heal the sick and raise the dead, to discern the thoughts and hearts of those around me. Oh, if I could just tap into the will and the power of the Father! It would be awesome to be like Christ. As a Christian, I’m supposed to make that my aim.
But then, there’s that pesky little four-letter word that trips up my carnal heart every day: obey. As the Son of God, Jesus was perfect and righteous; He was also obedient. One could say that He was perfect and righteous because He was obedient (Hebrews 5:8, 9). He did nothing, said nothing that was not directly of the Father (John 12:49).
Obedience is more than a checklist of do’s and don’ts. It’s more than a regimented, formulated, calculated life of routines. Obedience begins in the heart and is born of a spirit of humility and a willingness to surrender all our goals and aspirations, our pride, our reputation, our calendar. All of our life. I have a lot to learn about obedience. For example, I’m struck by how little time I devote in prayer and Bible study. Not knowing the intimate details of others’ schedules, I’m loath to assume everyone is as lax as I. However, I’ve noticed that many Christians seem to have little time for fellowship, corporate Bible study, or any church-sponsored community service. “I’m too busy” is the frequent, and often real, excuse. But obedience is more than a scheduling conflict. Often our lack of obedience and surrender stems from a heart conflict.
Unwittingly, we tell God, in so many words, “I’ve given you X number of hours or X amount of my heart. This is Your portion, and no more. The rest is mine.” But Jesus wants more than our time; He wants our love. Keeping His commandments manifests our love (John 14:15). You know how Jesus’ earthly story ended. Though He lived a perfect life and never sinned, He was not hailed as the holy Son of God. He was nailed to a cross as a criminal. And He let it happen. The apostles also faced gruesome deaths as a result of their attempts to be like Jesus. As Christ’s followers, we’re admonished to “count the cost” (Luke 14:28), probably because surrender comes at a price.
It may not cost us our physical lives; then again, it may. In any case, Jesus asks for our lives — our all. Lord, help us learn to willingly surrender ourselves — our whole selves — completely to Your perfect will. More than just singing a song, let us really surrender all.