Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 36; 147:12-20, Job 28:1-28, Acts 16:25-40, John 12:27-36a
For most people, surrender is a dirty word. Not just in war or sports, but in everyday life. Heaven forbid we not crush the gas pedal to pass and scowl at the driver who cut us off. We dare not end any argument, no matter how pointless or relationship-damaging, by simply withdrawing from it. Our business cannot simply succeed; it must out-perform or – better yet – eliminate its competition. We talk about loving our enemies, but we put it off until after we defeat them.
When an earthquake miraculously released Paul and Silas from unjust imprisonment, what would we have expected them to do? As their jailer was about to kill himself over his failure, they could have seized this opportunity to escape, but Paul cried out to stop him. Not exactly a move from the Jack Bauer playbook, is it? The jailer was so moved he fell at their feet, asked what he could do to be saved, and took them to his home, where Paul and Silas baptized his entire family.
Paul so loved his enemy (for who is your enemy if not your wrongful jailer?) he risked imprisonment and further beatings rather than see the man harm himself. Succumbing to Christ transformed Paul – who only months before had been hunting and jailing Christians – so drastically he was able to create converts by showing mercy in the face of injustice. Christ renewed Paul, who renewed the jailer, who renewed his family, and so on…
We all contain that same potential. To tap into it, we must surrender all that we are to Christ. We’re taught to never surrender, but there’s no getting around it. We surrender not from a position of weakness, but from a position of trust. What do we surrender? The grudge against the neighbor who always takes our parking space; the certainty we are the right kind of Christian; the status of socializing with the popular crowd; the fear of the different and the unknown.
Surrender is a lifelong process that doesn’t perfect us, but opens us to the possibilities available in God’s realm.
Comfort: God finds strength in our weakness.
Challenge: At the beginning of each week, select one thing – a grudge, a habit, a fear – to surrender to God.
Prayer: Compassionate God, thank you for the arms that hold me up. Amen.
Discussion: How does the idea of surrendering make you feel?
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