(Jesus said) “Truly, truly I say to you unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies it remains alone; but if it dies it bears much fruit.
Whoever loves his life loses it…and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me he must follow me…and where I am there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me the Father will honor him.” John 12:24-26
What act of worship is surrender? What does “dying to self” really mean?
The chapter began with a tale of celebrity: people came from all over to see Jesus and his rockstar sidekick, Lazarus, brother of Mary and Martha. Martha is running around serving and Mary is weeping over perfume. The authorities plot to kill Jesus even while his reputation and celebrity grows. After a parade there were some Greeks that wanted to see Jesus—and understanding that Gentiles were being reached and time is running short, Jesus had some more hard things to teach the Disciples.
Christianity has so many things that are counter-intuitive, counter-cultural, so far out of society’s norms as to be a “head-scratcher” cubed.
Take “dying to self”: In a society where I am encouraged to be all I can be; to have it my way; and look to be satisfied in every respect—surrendering and giving up my will is presented to be pretty wimpy. And yet my Lord indicates that I must put my own desires aside and embrace His Will….for what? Oh, nothing much—Eternal Life, being with Jesus, getting kudo’s and back slaps from the Father of all Creation.
The reason this is so hard is because folks like me are not wired that way from birth. In fact I inherited the “me, me, me” gene from my great-great (to the 40th power or so) grandfather, Adam. That “gene” is the Original Sin. “I will do it, stay out of my way…” is one way it manifests in me.
Jesus is the Atonement for Sin. Sin is something I do but sin is also written in my DNA. I need Redemption. I need to be Transformed. In geek speak I need my Operating Code rewritten—and Jesus made that happen when I surrendered, when I was converted. His rewriting of my Operating Code is why I am a New Creature in Christ—old things are passed away and (look out!!) all things are new.
So, dying to self, surrendering to Jesus has now become easy-peasy? Wrongo. It is a fight every single day. I have to pay attention to surrendering because if I don’t it is too easy to fall back into the habitual reflexes I have honed very well from my birth to the present.
Surrender isn’t only a mindset born from the “will of man” (see John 1), it is foremost an act of Worship. Laying my will, my wants, my attention and anxieties, my ambition, and all the other “my’s” at the foot of the Cross is an everyday Worship event.
Lord God, you see the struggle I have every day to surrender and what conflict it raises in me. There are times I am frozen in place because I want to act and I don’t have a clear understanding of what or how to act and please You. Take my current struggle Lord; help me understand what to do and give me peace—peace as only You can provide. AMEN