Complete surrender is the ultimate goal of the Christ follower.
Some might say, “Why is that necessary? Doesn’t that seem extreme?”
Perhaps we work against this notion because we think we have found a loophole in this discipleship thing. We have been presented a version of the Gospel that is, in Dallas Willard’s words, the Gospel of Minimal Entrance Requirements to get into heaven. In this gospel, we are given a sales pitch that says, “If you want to get to heaven, say these few words along with a prayer and that is all there is to it.”
This is a deal that is too good to pass up but requires very little commitment, much less surrender. Dallas Willard says, “Where in the New Testament does Jesus ever say, “Now I will tell you the minimal entrance requirements for getting into heaven when you die”? Nowhere.”
To understand the nature of the Good News of Christ one has to “let the message of Christ dwell among you richly.” That includes the profundity of his teachings; the sacrificial service of his miracles; the scandal of his relationships; the violence and torture of his death; and the power of his resurrection. When our mind and heart are set on the deep understanding of Jesus then we cannot help but give him our allegiance and our surrender and we are on our way to death-to-self.
When Jesus says for us to die to self, he is not calling us to a life of misery that must be endured because we owe it to God. No, he gives us himself and a whole new way of living. Paul says, “I am crucified with Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me. The life I now live, I live by faith in the one who loves me and gave his life for me.” The life we are now living is not a torturous, stripped down version of the life we were living before knowing Christ but an abundant life full of God’s glory, his purposes, creativity, joy, love, and mercy. This is a with-God life that opens up a world of possibilities and hope and not one that is small and lacking.
If you are holding back on God and searching for loopholes and only seeking the minimal entrance requirements of a Christ follower, then repent, because the Kingdom of God is at hand and the good life, the real life is available to you. But, we must surrender to that life.
Trust me, what you are giving up has nothing lasting and nothing that can sustain you.