Psalm 80:17-19 “Strengthen the man you love, the son of your choice. Then we will never abandon you again. Revive us so we can call on your name once more. Turn us again to yourself, O LORD God of Heaven's Armies. Make your face shine down upon us. Only then will we be saved.”
I feel as if God has been prodding me as a pastor to talk about one of the basics of Christianity, the idea of surrender. The challenge is that this is one of those basics, to which we persistently have to keep coming back. We have to keep RE-surrendering our lives to God, and, as time moves on, that can get difficult.
The reason for this necessity is grounded in the challenging but surprisingly illuminating doctrine of Total Depravity. By that, I mean that even after we have become Christians, even decades and scores later, we still have our fallen nature that keeps hanging on. We still have this residual nature as descendants of Adam, from the historic Fall of mankind, a fallen nature which will keep resisting surrender. We all want to stay in charge of the ultimate direction of our lives, a tendency which, unfortunately, never goes away in this lifetime.
It makes me think of a song written some years ago by a contemporary Christian group, DC Talk. One of the verses says, “I’m learning to give up the rights to myself, the bits in the pieces I’ve gathered as wealth, could never compare to the joy that you bring me. The peace that you show me is all that I need.” It is that continuing call by God to keep giving up our rights to ourselves, that continuing necessity, which honestly, gets old.
During my years of being in ministry, I’ve heard lots of strong Presbyterian “types,” Reformed types talk down about Baptists and “revivalistic” kinds of churches, about their tendency constantly to give people “alter calls,” an invitation by the pastor to “come on down, to the front of the church, and recommit your life to Christ!”
Now, indeed, I would discourage us from feeling like the merit or importance, in such a moment, is grounded in our actions of recommitting, or making a decision, and would instead encourage us to keep trusting that the merit and importance always is solely in what Christ has done in the atonement and in what He is doing in me now, by his Spirit moving and convicting me. Indeed, we should not place so much of the importance on our choice to come to God, but instead to put all of our hope and confidence only in God’s grace to us in Christ and His moving us to it. However, while having clarified that, this Presbyterian pastor doesn’t mind sounding a little “revivialistic,” in that the Bible seems to be calling all Christians to practice “re-commitment!” We need to have a Grace Presbyterian Church revival every day! …So that we could recommit our lives to God, everyday!
I think it actually is right to recommit our lives to God, and not just every once in a while. Even seasoned Christians need to start each day by starting over, by converting again to Christianity (if I may put it that way). We need continually to do the persistent work of giving up our “right to our self,” again, each day. Every day we need to become a Christian again! We have the freedom to celebrate and rejoice in the truth that yesterday, no matter what it involved, is in the past and is totally forgiven and wiped away. At least, as far as God is concerned it is.
With the gospel of grace, each day is a fresh start, a clean slate! And, it is not that we have to earn anything from here on. It is free! In the confidence that we are a cherished son or daughter of God, with a perfect record from what Jesus did for us, which we already and fully have as our own, God wants us to freely and joyfully be able to make each day a new beginning with Him.
Recommit your life to God today! This gentle, loving Father gives us this freedom! If you are like me, in the busy-ness of the past week, you too have probably taken back your rights to yourself without knowing it. Being a Christian means continually starting over. On the basis of grace, we get the freedom to “get right with God” again, each new morning.
And you know what can motivate us to do this? It is when we realize and believe that God does the exact same for us. Jesus recommits his life to me each day. Today, he does! Jesus re-gives away his rights to himself for us, to be at our access, to be at our call, to be the Spirit and power inside of us. He recommits to it every day! Let us do the same for him. Let us RE-surrender to God, today and every day.
Prayer: Lord, I’ve been away from you for a while. Thank you for earning me the right to freely come back to you. I want to give you my life, again, God. Help me today, to surrender every part of my life, every task, every responsibility, every desire … to you again. Thank you, God. In Christ I pray, Amen.