New Year’s Surrender

In The Incredible Power of Kingdom Authority there is a conversation between the late Adrian Rogers and Josef Tson, the revered Romanian pastor, author, and president of the Romanian Missionary Society. Pastor Tson survived years of persecution and exile under cruel Communist rule and was noted for his outstanding faithfulness to God, even during persecution. Adrian Rogers asked Dr. Tson for his perception of American Christianity.
After some hesitation, he replied, “Well, Adrian, since you have asked me, I’ll tell you. The key word in American Christianity is commitment.” Rather than being a positive thing, he saw it as an inadequate replacement of an older Christian teaching: surrender.
Tson described the difference, “When you make a commitment, you are still in control, no matter how noble the thing you commit to. One can commit to pray, to study the Bible, to give his money, or to commit to automobile payments, or to lose weight. Whatever he chooses to do, he commits to. But surrender is different. If someone holds a gun and asks you to lift your hands in the air as a token of surrender, you don’t tell that person what you are committed to. You simply surrender and do as you are told. . . . Americans love commitment because they are still in control. But the key word is surrender. We are to be slaves to the Lord Jesus Christ.”
This is a good observation. The Bible calls us to surrender our lives to Jesus. To give up our wants, desires and dreams and to let Him replace them with His desires for us, His goals for our lives.
During the New Year season, it is fashionable to make resolutions. Even Christians do this, resolving to give more to Kingdom work, read the Bible more, pray longer, serve somewhere, etc… The problem is that, like resolutions of diet and exercise, somewhere in mid-February we have slipped back into old habits. We try to do better in our own power and this is impossible. Without God’s empowering Spirit, we cannot do anything. With Him, nothing is impossible.
My resolve this year is not to commit to anything other than surrendering to God’s Spirit, and letting Him control my life, my ministry, my service. Even to do that, I must yield to His power. What about you? Are you tired of trying and failing? Why don’t you also resolve to surrender, and ask for the power to let Him use you as He wills?

Numbers

I wanted to share some numbers this morning that has me thinking. According to Christianity Today, the United States sent 127,000 missionaries to other countries (making us the largest sending nation) while receiving over 32,400 missionaries from other countries (making us the largest receiving country). On February 29th of this year, USA Today reported that during the last ten years (2000-2010) Islam increased 74% and Time reported on March 12th that 16% of the US population consider themselves unattached to any religion.

While many conclusions from these numbers can be drawn, here is my take. America is definitely a post-Christian nation where the churches have failed to even keep up with the population growth. While we have championed going out into the “lost world”, we have lost our own country. Perhaps we should treat the US as a foreign country and adopt the same strategies here to reach our own lost. We also must repent of the arrogance of believing that we have the answers for everyone else when we are losing our own people. Maybe, just maybe, we need to look at other countries where Christianity is growing, not shrinking, and ask them to teach us how to reach our own people. While I am grateful for those 32,400 missionaries coming here to help us, I am ashamed that we are losing so much ground.

Perhaps its time to admit that Christianity in America is cultural and not transformational. Until we repent of that and the churches get busy making disciples, we will continue to see us losing ground. We have the truth, the training, the resources – what I question is if we have the commitment, the desire, the love for Christ that will compel us to reaching the lost for Him.

What about you? When is the last time you were involved in bringing a person to faith in Jesus Christ and discipling them in the faith?