Surrender!

“I have read the entire Koran and can find in it no guidance on how Muslims should live as a minority in a society. I have read the entire New Testament and can find in it no guidance on how Christians should live as a majority.”

While browsing news articles about the horrendous state of the world (not recommended), I came across a Christian opinion article by Philip Yancey entitled “Paris and Beyond.” As I skimmed through the article, which is about how Christians should respond to ISIS, etc. the profound quote from a Muslim scholar that you see above really stood out to me.

The fact is, I am a Christian living in the majority-Christian (well… at least culturally-Christian) South. So often, I have struggled with how my faith shows I am any different from the people around me who do not believe in Jesus.

Jesus says in Matthew 19:24, “Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

I do not believe the parable in Matthew 19 is primarily about how materially rich people have a harder time getting to heaven than materially poor people do.

In context, it seems to me that the difference between the “rich” and “poor” lies in a willingness to surrender. 

In the majority-Christian South (and actually, the entire U.S. is still considered majority-Christian) we have no concept of surrender. We who are never willing to lay down our arms are shooting ourselves in the feet.

In Syria, in China, in places where Christianity is persecuted or condemned, there is a stark difference between people who follow Christ and people who do not. Christians in such countries are not merely nominal. They are living New Testament truths on a day-by-day basis as a minority group. They are surrendering everything–their very lives–for the sake of the Gospel.

We don’t have many opportunities to surrender in the United States of America. Ingrained in the American psyche is the assumption that surrendering is always a cop-out, always weak and shameful. Jesus, who likes to turn all assumptions on their heads, spin them around, and show us just how wrong we are, tells us that surrendering is our primary calling!

In Luke 9:23, He says, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”

The very first step in discipleship is denying self: denying self-rights, self-freedom, self-obsession, self-condemnation, self-self-me-me-mine. 

What the heck does that mean for Christians like me, living in the majority-Christian South? How do I glean from Scripture how to live in a world where lines are blurred? Where atheists say they’re Christians and Christians act like God doesn’t exist?

I wish I had a clear-cut answer. I hate admitting it, but I’m still learning, folks, and I expect I’ll be learning it my whole life.

We can start by taking a moment–or many moments–to ask God to align our will to His will, which is good, pleasing and perfect.

Start with Romans 12.

A Living Sacrifice

12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Humble Service in the Body of Christ

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your[a] faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead,[b] do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

Love in Action

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love.Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor,serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[c] Do not be conceited.

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[d] says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”[e]

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.