Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
– Luke 22:39-44
So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin[b] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
– 2 Corinthians 5:16-21
“Our Lord never tolerates our prejudices— He is directly opposed to them and puts them to death. We tend to think that God has some special interest in our particular prejudices, and are very sure that He will never deal with us as He has to deal with others. We even say to ourselves, ‘God has to deal with other people in a very strict way, but of course He knows that my prejudices are all right.’ But we must learn that God accepts nothing of the old life! Instead of being on the side of our prejudices, He is deliberately removing them from us. It is part of our moral education to see our prejudices put to death by His providence, and to watch how He does it. God pays no respect to anything we bring to Him. There is only one thing God wants of us, and that is our unconditional surrender.”
– Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest
In the first Scripture, Jesus surrendered unconditionally to His Heavenly Father. Jesus was preparing Himself for the cross. Jesus said that if anyone was to follow Him, they had to take up their cross and follow Him. The logic in my mind says that this unconditional surrender is part of the package. If we lived in the first century and took up a cross, our will is not considered from that moment on. We have no conditions that we can use to mitigate what is coming.
The second Scripture talks of us becoming a new creation. The old is gone, replaced by the new. We have unconditionally surrendered ourselves to God and His will. The Holy Spirit comes into our hearts and starts cleaning up. God sees us as clean, for He no longer sees our sin, but we are still in our old bodies. Sin will still be there, but as the Holy Spirit reveals the sin in our lives, He’ll also give us the power to turn from that sin – if we listen and obey.
Chambers ends his paragraph with ‘unconditional surrender’. When I think of those words, I think of Ulysses S. Grant. In my studies of military history, some claim that Gen. Grant’s initials were used to mean ‘unconditional surrender’, but the odd thing is that was not Grant’s name.
Grant was born Hiram Ulysses Grant. His initials spelled ‘H-U-G’, hug, but when he was appointed to West Point, his name was entered as Ulysses S. Grant. West Point appointments could not be altered, so he became U. S. Grant. During his years at West Point, his classmates dubbed him ‘Sam’, meaning Uncle Sam Grant. But his penchant for sticking to the enemy until they unconditionally surrendered gave new meaning to the initials.
One of the problems that I had in the year when God stuck to me until I surrendered, as Grant had done roughly 100 years prior, was I always reserved a condition here or there. I still wanted a bit of control of my destiny. I was a bit rebellious. Only when I unconditionally surrendered did I experience the Peace, Joy, and Understanding.
Chambers speaks of ‘prejudices’, but I think he is really referring to any thought that we have of this world. Too many of us hammer the edges off God, or the god of our creation, to fit Him into our preconceived hole of our concept of God. Most do this without even noticing. Why do we have this round god hammered into a square hole? Could it be that we have not unconditionally surrendered? Could it be that we have our own thoughts (prejudices) that are supreme over the will of Almighty God?
I read someone’s blog a few days ago and they said that they held to this or that thought, for it was placed there by their mother. We all have baggage. Whether our baggage was placed there by a relative, a teacher, a spouse, or simply read in a book, we will take none of that baggage with us. I think it was the same blogger who requested that when he was buried, his hands should be exposed, so that everyone could see that he took nothing with him.
If we will eventually need to let it go, why struggle through life with it. Let the concept of our prejudices go. Let our control, even in part, of our destiny go. We all have the same destiny – the grave. Surrender unconditionally to Jesus. He will fill us with the Holy Spirit, who is a better life counselor than any fellow, flawed human.
I wrote this post on Saturday, about the very hour that a gunman killed and wounded people at a synagogue that is less than 25 miles from my home. The gunman was anti-Semitic. The incident brought back memories when I had read Mein Kampf. (During that same year that God was calling me, Satan was tempting me also.) I thought of how alluring the temptation of blaming all my mistakes and misfortunes on a different group of people, a group so that they are collectively guilty – no individual faces. Is it possible to not have any prejudice toward a race, an ethnicity, a body shape, a level of mental acuity? Whenever you are asked to hire someone, there is usually an unspoken, and often unsurfaced, reason why this person was hired and that one was not. But our resistance to violence has disappeared. More and more people are acting upon these temptations.
Getting rid of guns is not the answer. Turning to God is the answer.
My prayers go out to the families who have lost loved ones, to the survivors of the attack, to the community that has lost their sense of safety and security, to a wonderful friend who lives in that community, and to the world in general. People are angry. Satan has fueled this anger and directed the sense of guilt from ourselves to anyone else. And the need to act out our frustrations in violence is not being tempered by any thought of morality, civility, or even sanity.
The only solution to our problems is an unconditional surrender to the God of the Universe, the only One capable of dealing with it.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.