Heart of Worship, Part One
-- ...Give yourselves to God... surrender your whole being to him to be
used for righteous purposes (Romans 6:13 TEV).
Surrender is an unpopular
word, disliked almost as much as the word submission. It implies losing, and no
one wants to be a loser. Surrender evokes the unpleasant images of admitting defeat
in battle, forfeiting a game, or yielding to a stronger opponent. The word is
almost always used in a negative context. Captured criminals surrender to the
In our competitive world were taught to never quit trying,
never give up, and never give in - so we dont hear much about surrendering. If
winning is everything, surrendering is unthinkable. Even Christians would rather
talk about winning, succeeding, overcoming, and conquering than yielding, submitting,
obeying, and surrendering. But surrendering to God is the heart of worship.
yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing
to him. This is the true worship that you should offer.
True worship -
bringing God pleasure - happens when you give yourself completely to God. Notice
the first and last word of that verse are the same: offer.
to God is what worship is all about.
This act of personal surrender is
called many things: consecration, making Jesus Lord, taking up your cross, dying
to self; yielding to the Spirit. What matters is that you do it, not what you
call it. God wants your life. All of it. 95% is not enough.
There are three
barriers that block our total surrender to God: our ignorance of God - not knowing
what hes really like, our sinful nature - the desire to be God ourselves, and
our misunderstanding of surrender.
Can I Trust God?
is an essential ingredient to surrender. You wont surrender to God unless you
trust Him, but you cant trust Him until you know Him better. Fear keeps us from
surrendering, but love casts out all fear. The more you realize how much God loves
you, the easier surrender becomes.
How do I know God loves me? He gives
us many evidences: God says he loves you (Psalm 145:9); Youre never out of his
sight (Ps. 139:3); He cares about every detail of your life (Matt. 10:30); He
gave you the capacity to enjoy all kinds of pleasure (1 Tim. 6:17b); He has good
plans for your life (Jer. 29:11); He forgives you (Ps. 86:5); Hes patient with
you (Ps. 145:8); He sacrificed his Son for you (Rom. 5:8). God loves you infinitely
more than you can imagine.
God proves his love for us in that while we
were sinners Christ died for us.
If you want to know how much you matter
to God, look at Christ with his arms outstretched on the cross saying, "I love
you this much! Id rather die than live without you."
God is not a cruel
slave driver, or a bully who uses brute force to coerce us into submission. He
doesnt try to break our will, but woos us to himself, so that we might offer
it freely to him. God is a Lover and a Liberator, and surrendering brings freedom,
not bondage. When we completely surrender ourselves to Jesus, we discover that
he is not a tyrant but a savior; not a boss, but a brother; not a dictator, but
Admitting our limitations
A second barrier to total
surrender is our pride. We dont want to admit that were just creatures, and
not in charge of everything. Its the oldest temptation: "Youll be like God!"
(Gen 3:5) That desire is the cause of so much stress in your life.
is a struggle, but what most people dont realize is that our struggle, like Jacobs,
is really with God! We want to be God, and theres no way you are going to win
A.W. Tozer said, "The reason why many are still troubled,
still seeking, still making little forward progress is because they havent yet
come to the end of themselves. Were still trying to give orders, and interfering
with God's work within us."
We arent God, and never will be. Were humans.
It is when we try to be God that we end up most like Satan, who tried the same
We accept our humanity intellectually, but not emotionally. We give
mental assent to the idea, but when faced with our own limitations, we react with
irritation, anger, and resentment. We want to be taller (or shorter), smarter,
stronger, more talented, beautiful, and wealthy. We want to have it all and do
it all, and become upset when it doesnt happen. Then, when we notice God gave
others characteristics we dont have, we respond with envy, jealousy, and self-pity.
What it means to surrender
Surrendering to God is not passive
resignation, fatalism, or an excuse for laziness. It is not accepting the status
quo. It may mean the exact opposite: sacrificing your life in resistance to evil
and injustice, or suffering in order to change what needs to be changed. God often
calls surrendered people to do battle on his behalf. It is not for cowards or
Surrendering is not putting your brain in neutral and giving
up rational thinking. God would not waste the mind he gave you! God does not want
robots to serve him; he already has angels.
Surrendering is not repressing
your personality. God wants to use your unique personality. Rather than being
diminished, surrendering enhances it. C. S. Lewis observed, "The more we let God
take us over, the more truly ourselves we become - because he made us. He invented
all the different people that you and I were intended to be. It is when I turn
to Christ, when I give up myself to His personality, that I first begin to have
a real personality of my own."
Surrendering is best demonstrated in obedience;
cooperating with your Creator. You say, "Yes Lord" to whatever he asks of you.
Actually, "No, Lord" is a contradiction. You cannot claim Jesus as your Lord when
you refuse to obey him. After a night of failed fishing, Peter modeled surrender
when Jesus told him to try again: "Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't
caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets." Surrendered
people obey Gods word, even if it doesnt make sense.
In the life of Abraham
we see another aspect of surrender: trust. Surrendering your life means following
Gods leading without knowing where; waiting for Gods perfect timing without
knowing when; expecting a miracle without knowing how; trusting Gods purpose
without knowing why circumstances happen.
Surrender yourself to the Lord,
and wait patiently for him.
You know youre surrendered to God when you
rely on God to work things out instead of trying to manipulate others, force your
agenda, and control the situation. You let go and let God work. You dont have
to always be "in charge." Instead of trying harder, you trust more.
also know youre surrendered when you dont react to criticism and rush to defend
Surrendered hearts show up best in relationships. You are not
self-serving, you dont edge others out, and you dont demand your rights.
most difficult thing to surrender for many people is their money. Many have thought,
"I want to live for God but I also want to earn enough money to live comfortably
and retire someday." Retirement is not the goal of a surrender life.
it competes with God for the primary attention of our lives, Jesus said, "You
cannot serve both God and money," and "Wherever your treasure is, your heart will
The supreme example of self-surrender is Jesus. The night before
his crucifixion Jesus surrendered himself to Gods plan. He prayed, "Father, everything
is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want
your will, not mine."
Jesus didnt pray, "God, if youre able to take away
this pain, please do so." He began by affirming that God can do anything! Instead
he prayed, "God, if it is in your best interest to remove this suffering, please
do so. But if it fulfills your purpose, thats what I want too."
surrender says "Father, if this problem, pain, sickness, or circumstance is needed
to fulfill your purpose and glory in my, life or in anothers, please dont take
it away!" This level of maturity does not come easy. In Jesus case, he agonized
so much over Gods plan that he sweat drops of blood. Surrender is hard work.
In our case, it is intense warfare against our self-centered nature.
article originally appeared in Rick Warren's Ministry ToolBox, a free, email newsletter
available from pastors.com.
Used by permission.
The Ministry ToolBox is for ANYONE serving Jesus Christ.
For a free subscription, you can sign up at www.pastors.com.
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback
Church in Lake Forest, CA., a congregation that now averages 16,000 in attendance
each weekend. Rick is also author of "The
Purpose Driven Church," and founder of
Pastors.com, a global Internet community for those in ministry. You may reprint
this article in your publication with the following attribution: From Rick Warren's
Ministry ToolBox, a free weekly e-newsletter for those in ministry, www.pastors.com.
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