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

Part 2. Transformation for Jesus’ Sake

         There was yet more to learn about being like Jesus. A new spiritual concept was opened to me about the time I was 50. This concept asked, Is Christianity’s full message only that Jesus will help me in all my needs? Or is it also about my helping Jesus in His needs? Jesus had said, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work” (John 4:34). I realized that my relationship with God was a two-way street. It wasn’t all “receive.” It was “receive and give.”

         At this point I began to understand that my Christian life had been a matter of looking at my to-do list and telling God what help I needed from Him. Usually that daily visit to the throne of grace was an in-and-out visit. I now realized that if I was going to help Jesus do His work in the world, I would need to stay at the throne of grace all the time so I could work from His to-do list.

         Only God knows how self-centered a Christian I can be and still be saved. Only God knows whether in-and-out, off-and-on Christians will receive eternal life. And only I know whether I am a casual Christian or a thoroughgoing Christian. If being a Christian means “What can God do for me?” I am an off-and-on Christian. But if it means “What can I do for You?” then I “have come to fullness in him” (Col. 2:10). Then I can claim the promise of Philippians 1:6: “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (NKJV).        

A Radical Transformation Is Requested    

         You may ask, “Does the Bible teach that I must be filled with Jesus, that is, be like Him, in order to be saved?” No, it doesn’t, not in such words. It is better to say that we enter the Christian way in order to be transformed into the likeness of Jesus (Rom. 12:1, 2). If you choose to neglect this transformation of your character, you will likely slip back into your old ways. But if you choose to participate in God’s work of transforming you to be like Christ, you will want to deny yourself and take up your cross and follow Him, even to Golgotha.

         And if you choose to be an effective demonstration before the watching universe that God’s plan of salvation works, and if you want to be a minister of reconciliation in the world, you will need to be a thoroughgoing Christian. Paul describes your role, then, as an ambassador through whom God is making His appeal to the world (2 Corinthians 5:17-21).

         We can be ambassadors if we want to. We can be partakers of the divine nature if we want to.

         Becoming like Jesus is a very attractive goal for a Christian. How is that? The more I learn to think like Jesus, the more I develop attitudes like His, and the more I behave like Jesus, the less turmoil I will have in my life. Let me explain. According to the Apostle Paul, when I am confronted by the law of God, that is, when I become acquainted with the character and nature of God, my sins now become utterly repulsive. My love for Jesus is having a head-on collision with love of myself. Paul describes it this way: “With my mind I am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh I am a slave to the law of sin” (Rom. 7:25). God is illuminating the true extent of my sinful nature and my entrenched sins. What has seemed normal and natural in my life now introduces discomfort, if not pain, to my retrained conscience.

         My carnal nature is at war with my spiritual nature. As long as I am being influenced by these two competing natures, I will experience stress, turmoil and anxiety. Like Paul I will say, “Wretched man that I am.” When I finally surrender fully to Jesus, I experience peace and joy beyond description. So, becoming like Jesus is a very attractive goal for a Christian. Paul wrote: “To set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace” (Rom. 8:6). That is, living totally within the will of God is the most glorious experience a person can have.

         Look with me again at Jesus. He is known as the Prince of Peace, not only because He offers peace to individuals and nations, but also because He Himself practiced full surrender to His Father. He was always at peace within. He teaches us how to practice full surrender to our Father, so we too may be totally at peace within.

         Peace, perfect peace!

What Is “Knowing the Will of God”?

         When I refer to knowing the will of God, I mean more than knowing the teachings of Scripture. I mean knowing the will of God in the personal affairs of my everyday life–my thought life and my active life. To acquire such knowledge of the will of God for myself, I turn to Romans 12:1, 2 and study each phrase intently. The key instructions here are to sacrifice ourselves and to be transformed. These are actions of surrender at the deepest level.

         First, sacrifice. In this verse “sacrifice” refers to my physical body. Each member is to be unplugged from my carnal power source in a thoughtful action of sacrifice and presented to the Lord. The second action of surrender concerns my mind. With my approval the Holy Spirit undertakes the metamorphosis of my mind, so that I may have the mind of Christ within. Then, wrote Paul, I will know the perfect will of God.         

         Now with Bible in hand I search for those specific portions of Scripture that guide believers personally in the way of the Lord. In these passages I usually find a reflection of myself in one or more phrases. I then dig deeply into the meaning of those phrases that are a reflection of who I am at that moment. Then I pray the prayer of servanthood, the prayer of devotion, the prayer of self-denial, not asking for what I need from the abundant Giver but asking what my Master needs of me. Will not my loving and caring Parent in heaven, who covets my devotion, reveal His will to me? Of course He will.  Go to Part 3