Surrendering, even surrendering to God, is a foreign concept to the church in America. After all, surrendering appears weak. American culture venerates winners, not losers. Perhaps a clear example of the faulty American attitude toward surrender is provided by General Anthony McAuliffe. During the Battle of the Bulge in World War II, the Germans surrounded his position and demanded his surrender.1
His one-word reply to the German commander was, “Nuts!” General McAuliffe’s memorable one-word reply defined his remarkable career.1 In opposition to this, followers of Christ are called to a surrendered life. Not in weakness, but in embracing God’s strength in all situations.
While American culture idolizes winners in all areas of life, Scripture teaches Christians about counter-cultural practices. As Americans, we demand our rights and fully expect those rights to be respected; but the Christian life embraces a different philosophy. Jesus told his disciples to consider themselves as dead (the military concept of unconditional surrender) when he said to “take up your cross daily” (Luke 9:23, ESV).
If a person could fully follow just this one command of Jesus, that person would be a perfect disciple of Jesus Christ. A dead person has ceased to make their own decisions and choices. A dead person does not have any rights, and if they did have rights, they could not demand them. Jesus was telling his disciples to cease trying to be first and unconditionally surrender to God.
The concept of considering yourself dead is reinforced when Jesus taught us in Matthew 19:30 that “the first shall be last, and the last shall be first.” If you consider yourself dead (take up your cross), you no longer strive to be first. Instead, you surrender yourself and your ambition to God.
The Apostle Paul also continued this theme in Romans 12:1 when he told his readers to present their bodies as a living sacrifice to God. Paul continued this theme in Galatians 2:20 when he said, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
I Surrender All
There is a hymn that used to be sung in churches across the country named “I Surrender All.” This hymn was written by Judson W. Van DeVenter.
The first verse and chorus is,
“All to Jesus I surrender,
All to him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust him,
In his presence daily live.
I surrender all, I surrender all,
All to thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.”
The American church, thanks to the worship of our cultural heroes, has forgotten all about surrender. It’s time for the church to remember. It’s time for the church to surrender to God. It is not just in worship to Him; it is a benefit to us as His creation. It’s time for the church to return to biblical principles.
1National Archives Foundation, Surrender? “Nuts!” Gen. Anthony McAuliffe's 1944 Christmas Message To His Troops
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.