Thursday, September 21, 2017

Unconditionally

July 20, 2010 by  
Filed under Monthly Articles

On August 10th, 1945, the nation of Japan was at the ultimate crossroads. A power to be dealt with at the beginning of World War II, it had now become a nation that had not only lost its ability to attack, but also its ability to defend. It ships sat in their ports, its planes sat on the ground, useless due to a critical shortage of fuel and supplies due to the allied “Operation Starvation”. An offensive that was aimed at cutting off Japan’s ability to sustain itself. And it worked. This coupled with relentless forward movement of allied troops and the use of two atomic weapons, had crippled a once proud nation. Although still proud, it had become painfully obvious that there was only one alternative. Unconditional surrender.

While it was obvious to most that this choice was inevitable, there were still factions within the leadership of Japan that was determined to see this war through to the end with no concessions. Attempts were made to overthrow what was already a tumultuous government in an attempt to fight one last great battle. These attempts failed, and the nation of Japan was forced to enter into unconditional surrender to allied forces.

What is unconditional surrender? More importantly, what does it have to do with Christianity? Let’s answer the second part first. It has everything to do with it! Why? Let’s answer the first part of the above question.

Unconditional Surrender: Surrender without any conditions except for those provided by International law. An announcement of unconditional surrender is also meant to put extreme psychological pressure on a weaker adversary. This is taken from Wikipedia and I feel gives a good description.

Ever play “war” or “cowboys and Indians” as a kid? The game would finally have to end, usually with one side saying, “I give up!” I know in my neighborhood, we actually used a white handkerchief that was to be waved, at that point the game was over and we all went home to eat supper.

Now that we have all “grown up”, we realize that it is not quite that simple. This is where unconditional surrender plays such a huge role in our relationship with God.

He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 10:39 (NKJV).
This at times can be such a hard verse of scripture to grasp, at least for myself it can be. God created us, is our author, our father. His will for us is perfect, his desire is for us to bask in the center of that will, and one day join him in Heaven.

So what’s the problem? Well here is the problem. To stay in the center of God’s will for our lives means to “unconditionally surrender” our lives to him. “Oh, I believe in God, I go to church, I give my ten percent, and I try to be a good person.” All wonderful things, which will never mature into fullness without unconditional surrender. I don’t say these things to make anyone who reads t his uncomfortable; I say them because I know they apply to my own life. I also feel safe in saying that I probably am not the only child of God who says them.

Oh, I will surrender to God, I already have. But is it unconditional? Most of the time no, and if that is the case, then it is not unconditional. “God I surrender totally to you!” Well, based on these conditions: There are no ball games, Alabama, Auburn, or Tennessee is not playing, as long as I feel good, as long as someone is going to appreciate what I do, as long as the yard does not need to be mowed, as long as I can’t find someone else to do it because I am really busy at work. This list could go on and on, and I know that for me does often times.

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things, which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on this earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Colossians 3:1-4 (NKJV).
Do we seek what is above daily? Or do we seek what we think is ahead? The future! More money, a nicer home, a faster car, just a whole bunch of new and improved stuff! That’s what it is, stuff. Things that make us feel happy and satisfied, that we have accomplished enough to reach the next rung in the ladder.

Now I am not saying that God does not want us to have any nice things. Obviously God loves us and wants us to be pleased. But not at the sacrifice of his will for our lives. Remember when Christ came into your heart? A renewal, a rebirth, a new beginning. When we accept Christ it should be done on an unconditional basis. We place it all there. Our families, our jobs, our life, not just our life here on earth, but our eternal well being as well. We are taking hold of the promise that God made to us, a covenant, signed in blood by his son, so that we could live in a kingdom one day, a kingdom greater than any human mind could engineer on this earth. As far as the future goes, it often fails to meet our expectations, just ask Marty McFly. (Michael J. Fox’s character in “Back to the Future” for those who may not know).

How are our lives like a nation that faces unconditional surrender?

• We do not intend to fail
• We feel that the future will exceed our expectations
• We fail to respond accordingly in times of crisis
• We allow ourselves to not only become weaker offensively, but we lose the ability to defend ourselves against the enemy

I know from my own experiences that when I am not in unconditional surrender to God, Satan is licking his chops. What a bounty of weapons he has to throw at us. Money, power, prestige, physical strength. Do not think for one moment that Satan is not highly skilled in how to use these against. The allure and temptation of all these things may not be enough put a wall between God, and us but let us acquire them and then lose them!!! Or even better, let us continue to fail to reach that “certain level” that we covet. Now we have an issue don’t we. Very easy to question God as to why. We should really question ourselves. Why have we allowed Satan to mislead us on a path of false happiness?

Unconditional surrender to God should never be seen as weak, or as having to live a life that is not full. But sometimes just the thought of having to completely give in with no concessions can be daunting. Not with our hearts, but with our minds. We have been pretuned by the world as to what it takes to be a good man. What makes a great wife? What kind of grades and athletic achievements our kids should have. Anything less is considered failure by many of those around us. With enough time, we too will see ourselves continually striving to please the world. “Using Resources we don’t have, to get things we don’t need, to please people we don’t like”! We all do it.

Japan signed the declaration of unconditional surrender. It was hard, it was sad, and it was a blow to their pride in the standings of world power. Is that really any different than how we feel? When we surrender unconditionally to God it is not easy. We are giving up the power to choose our own destiny. It may mean that our pride gets a little dented because the neighbors may have a nicer car. It may burden or sadden us because friends and family that we cherish may not see the necessity to sell out to God so completely.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. Romans 12:1 (NKJV)

When animals were sacrificed according to God’s Law, they were cut into pieces and placed on the altar. As living sacrifices for God, we too must surrender all the pieces of ourselves to God. I like the above verse of scripture for one particular reason. When it tells us that it is our “reasonable service”. To me this speaks loudly. It’s as if God is saying to me, “now come on, I know that I am asking you to give up a lot according to you. But look at your return on investment.

Not only will I never leave you, I will bless you right now while you are on earth, in ways that you have yet to understand, but I will help you to understand by giving you my word, and by accepting your prayers. I am having a special place prepared for you, more beautiful than you can imagine. Most importantly, you are mine, I created you and I love you.

How can we rest assured that we can believe in these promises? God surrendered his only son on a cross to die for our sins. Unconditionally.

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