His Without Reserve
Christian Life

The Surrendered Life:
The Christian’s Gift to Our Heavenly Father

Part 1. Jesus Challenges a Young Believer

         Like you, I’ve sung “I Surrender All” many times. Usually I sang it on behalf of a new believer who was being baptized. Just the same, I made it my choice, my desire, too. I submitted my wrongs, my sins, my faults to the Lord. By faith I received forgiveness and cleansing. Because my life continued to include sins of commission and sins of omission, I continued to confess.

         After nearly a lifetime of sincere confessions and of wanting more and more to be like Jesus, the Holy Spirit pointed out to me that I was simply surrendering the same things over and over again. Despite my sincerity, I had not really changed. That wake-up call to a higher Christian life launched me on a new phase of my spiritual journey. I began learning how to allow the Holy Spirit to help me attain victory over my sins by inviting Him to live in my inner sanctuary.

         My spiritual journey had begun when I was about 12. My father gave me Charles Sheldon’s book In His Steps. It’s the story of what occurred in a congregation when the pastor challenged the members to ask, when they faced a problem, “What would Jesus do?” The result has been that all through my life I have listened to that book’s message, “What would Jesus do?”

         About the same time, while listening to a vespers speaker at the college where my father taught religion, I was struck by the challenge of 2 Corinthians 10:4, 5: “For the weapons of our warfare are not merely human, but they have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ.”

         Going into my teens, I knew that not all my thoughts were “captive to obey Christ.” What a challenge! Was such a connection with heaven even possible?

My Thought Life Became Involved     

         These experiences focused my attention on my thought life. I sensed that there was more to the Christian life than “being a good boy.” Answering the question “What would Jesus do?” might seem to involve just a person’s behavior, but the true answer comes only when we ask the more penetrating questions, “What would Jesus think?” “What would Jesus decide?” So my spiritual life began with two powerful challenges to my thought life. Both would lead me on a journey toward God’s goal for me: full surrender.

         My challenge of faith–to take every thought captive to obey Christ and to ask every hour, “What would Jesus do?”–led me, of course, to Philippians 2:5-8: “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death–even death on a cross.”

         Here was a graphic portrait of what Jesus did for me. It also told me what was in His mind. Submission. Humility. Obedience. I was learning that to become like Christ is to think as He thought and do as He did.

         When Jesus taught His disciples how to pray, He gave them these words: “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt 6:10). I had absent-mindedly parroted those words for years before I realized that the way God’s will is done on earth is for Him to act through me and other Christians! What a sobering thought! Was I as willing as Jesus to be submissive to my Father’s will? Was I as willing as Jesus to be humble? Was I as willing to be obedient to God as Jesus was?

What Does “to the Point of Death” Mean?

         It didn’t take me long to put two and two together. If I were going to ask, “What would Jesus do?” I needed to study what Jesus did. He was submissive. He was humble. He was obedient to the will of His Father even to the point of death. Most Christians are not executed, so what does “to the point of death” mean in daily life? Obviously, dying for God’s sake means letting go of all aspects of my life and placing them in God’s hands. Paul made this clear to me: “For it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” So, I said, I must find out what the will of my heavenly Father is for me, hour by hour, and submit myself to it, even though it means relinquishing everything, including life itself. With such a series of transactions in the path of my mind, did I still want to be like Jesus? It would be an awesome choice.

         It became plain to me that heeding the will of my Father is the same as having the mind of Christ, and that relinquishing everything to my heavenly Father’s desire for me is also the same as having the mind of Christ.

         As the years passed from my youth to middle age, the idea of asking, “What would Jesus do?” took on different colors. At first it meant having the mind of Christ when confronted with a problem situation. The answer that came to mind might be:“Keep His commandments.” “Be selfless.” “Pray for victory.” But as I grew in Christian wisdom, I saw that there were many situations in life that were not problem situations. They were everyday events. For these issues I had habitually depended upon my own judgment. I didn’t ask, “What would Jesus do?” because I thought I knew what to do. I could figure it out on my own. After all, He had given me a mind, a set of talents, and a lot of religious instruction.

         I wondered whether it would make any difference in the results if I included Him in commonplace situations? I tried it. Result? More and more He let me in on His way of thinking about everything, not just problems and temptations. I soon realized that knowing my Father’s attitude about situations, whether good or bad, helped me become a more mature Christian. Go to Part 2