Do you remember the days before debit cards when we used cheques? There are some pivotal verses in the book of Romans, verses which you simply have to understand to live as a Christian that remind me of a particular kind of cheque. Here they are
12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Those verses remind me of times when I have written a blank cheque. if there was something that I had to pay for but I wasn’t sure of the exact amount I would write out who the cheque was payable to and then sign it. However, I only gave blank cheques to people I really, really trusted.
Paul is encouraging us in Romans 12 to make our lives, every part of them, a blank cheque that God can cash. That is what it means to be a living sacrifice, it means to surrender our whole life to God no matter the cost. The Greek speaking world thought that the physical part of your life, what you did with your body, wasn’t really important. Paul however says we are to offer even our bodies, no area of our lives are allowed to be withheld from God. Eugene Peterson tries to capture this idea when he translates these verses like this,
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.
Let’s be honest in the same way that most of us were reticent to write a blank cheque in case the figure to be paid was higher than we anticipated many Christians hold back from surrendering to God because they fear the cost. There are Christians who think surrendering to God entirely would cost them too much. They will give God so much of their lives for so much time.
Why do we find it so difficult to surrender to God? Why do so many of us hold so much back?
I think ultimately it all boils down to trust. The truth is that we don’t trust God enough to write him a blank check (for my American friends) with our lives. We worry about what that will cost us.
Over the years I have lost count of the number of people who have come to me to talk about knowing God’s Will for their lives. With some of those people I have got the very distinct impression that they wanted some clarity about God’s Will for their lives so they could choose whether they wanted to follow it or not. They wanted to decide whether following God’s Will would be worth paying the price. It never works that way. Paul tells us that its only when we trust God and are committed to doing His will whatever the cost that we find out what it is. Surrendering to God’s Will is the way we come to know God’s Will.
Its only AFTER we surrender our lives wholly to God, after we write that blank cheque that, we “will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
I have discovered the secret to surrendering to God, it is trust. Paul starts these crucial verses with a reminder, he says in effect what I am about to say will only make sense, “in view of God’s mercies” Paul is pointing back to what he has just written in the earlier chapters, about God’s grace, about the free gift of salvation, about Jesus death for us when we were sinners, about the work of the Holy Spirit. How could we not trust a God who was willing to die for us to give us new life? Paul emphasises the trustworthiness of God at the end of these verses too, talking how God’s will is “ good, pleasing and perfect” How crazy are we when we think that by holding on to our life, refusing to surrender it God, that we are really going to be able to improve on what God has planned for you, which is “good, pleasing and perfect?” Can you improve on “good, pleasing and perfect” I know when I have resisted God, did a “Sinatra” and did it my way and resisted His will my way has been far from good, pleasing and perfect.
So the basic issue when it comes to surrender is trust. When you realise all that God has done for you and the promises He makes to you, surrendering your whole life to Him whatever the cost ,will seem the most reasonable thing in the world to do. If you don’t trust God surrendering to him your whole life will seem like a gamble or a crazy decision.
Surrendering to God is fundamentally about a transfer of trust, transferring who you trust with your life from yourself to God. I was in a youth organisation connected to the Royal Air Force and one of the best bits about being in the “ATC” is that we went flying in little trainer aircraft called Chipmunks. When we were airborne the instructor would tell me to put my hands on the stick and feet on the rudders and then he would say “You have control” At that moment he transferred control to me, he trusted me with his life. He was a brave man; I am not sure I would have trusted a 14-year-old with my life. I am sure however that I can trust God with my life.
I wonder if you trust God enough to write a blank cheque with the rest of your life? To transfer control of your life, its direction and destination to God? To tell Him he has control?
When you think of His mercies, all He has done for you that should seem like a no brainer