Becoming a disciple of Christ requires we get comfortable with some uncomfortable words. Submission. Surrender. Sacrifice. These are not concepts that most of us gravitate towards easily. When we do inch our way closer to abiding by these principles, what is harder still is to give ourselves completely to them. We submit certain areas of our lives to God but keep others to manage ourselves. Surrender in measure is acceptable, but not in full. Sacrifice is easy as long as our limits are not pushed too far. Following Jesus is not about what we can keep or what we will gain; it’s about losing everything for the sake of His mission and His Kingdom.
Most of us like to assume or at least act as if we are the masters of our destiny. We decide where we will go, what we will do, and where we will spend our money. Submission to anyone is deemed an aggravating and temporary condition. We submit to our bosses in order to earn a paycheck. We submit to authorities in order to retain our freedom. These are done somewhat grudgingly, and often with the attitude that we could do better if left to our own devices. We don’t like to submit, to willingly put ourselves under the rule of another; but following Jesus requires that we bow humbly before Him and make it our life purpose to serve Him in every way. There is no discipleship without submission.
Surrender is similar to submission in that we must give up our perceived rights in order to follow Christ. Everything that we previously considered to be ours now belongs to Him. We forfeit our right of possession when we choose to follow Jesus. All we have is now to be used for the service of God. All sense of ownership must be eradicated and everything must be dedicated to Him. It is not easy to let go of so much that we have considered being ours for so long. Our identity becomes so tightly wrapped up in our stuff that it is difficult to discern where we end and it begins. Jesus seeks to restore our true identity and we must let go of all we cling to in order for the transformation to be complete.
Sacrifice is the culmination of everything else. We sacrifice what we believe to be freedom when we submit to God. We sacrifice our creature comforts when we surrender all to Him. It is entirely possible that we will even end up sacrificing our very lives in order to go where He sends us, or to do what He commands. Following hard after God is not a guarantee of a “happily ever after”. Being a disciple of Jesus is dangerous. It is also the only way to find true freedom, true identity, and everlasting life.
Which of these words cause the most consternation for you? Are you comfortable with submission? Do you readily bow down and acknowledge His Lordship over your life? How about surrender? Are you able to give up everything for which you have worked so hard? Do you hold loosely to the things of this earth? Finally, are you willing to sacrifice everything – literally – for the sake of Jesus Christ? Will you lay down your life for His Kingdom? Can you honestly say that you hold nothing back from God? Discipleship is not an easy path, but it is the only path wherein you will find rest, peace, mercy, and healing. The road may be uncomfortable, but the destination is unimaginable. Submit, surrender, and sacrifice; He is worthy of our devotion, and He is mighty to save.