If I had to say what I find the most difficult thing about the Christian life, it’s probably surrender.

Surrender goes against our nature. We want to win. We think that surrender is weak and ineffectual. We think it’s a sign of weakness and defeat. We fail to understand the paradoxes of God and struggle with so many verses in the Bible that go against our natural way of thinking and doing things. Verses like “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.” (Mark 8:34-35) Verses like “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life,” (John 12:24-25) These things make no sense at all to the natural mind. We need to have our eyes opened by the Spirit of God before they can hope to make sense. And even then, ‘making sense’ is probably the wrong way of looking at it. What we really need to do is see by faith that God’s ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts (Is 55:8-9) and so it’s O.K. for it not to make sense. But it’s not O.K. for us to ignore it.

If we try to live the Christian life in our own strength, we will fail. It is impossible for sinful man to please a holy God in his own strength. We have to be prepared to lay down our preconceived ideas and the world’s way of thinking and embrace surrender.

One of the new songs at the Passion conference in Atlanta takes this theme and says:
The battle rages on
As storm and tempest roar
We cannot win this fight
Inside our rebel hearts

We’re laying down our weapons now
We raise our white flag
We surrender all to You, all for You
We raise our white flag
The war is over
Love has come
Your love has won

The white flag is an internationally recognised protective sign of truce or ceasefire, and request for negotiation. It is also used to symbolise surrender, since it is often the weaker military party which requests negotiation. A white flag signifies to all that an approaching negotiator is unarmed, with an intent to surrender or a desire to communicate. Persons carrying or waving a white flag are not to be fired upon, nor are they allowed to open fire. The use of the flag to surrender is included in the Hague Convention.

Many of us still see surrender as synonymous with defeat. We think if we surrender, we will lose. But as Louie Giglio reminded everyone at Passion 2012, surrender is not synonymous with defeat. We have to die before we can live in God. It goes against our normal way of thinking, but we have to lose before we can win. It’s only when we surrender to God that we find His life living through us and in us and we can know victory.