Surrender and Commitment
This article was originally published as a part of the series titled “Just A Thought”
When I became a Christian I was asked to make a “commitment” to Jesus. After that, when people wanted to find out if I was a Christian they would sometimes ask, “Have you made a ‘commitment’ to Christ?”
I, too, began to ask people at lunch or next to me on a plane, “Has anyone ever talked to you about making a ‘commitment’ to Christ?”
I have come to a point that I don’t like the word commitment very much anymore. Don’t misunderstand-it is a perfectly legal theological word. My problem is what it tends to communicate in our performance – based culture (“you’d better not have 3 bad games in a row”).
In our culture, when we say, “Make a commitment to Jesus,” a man often hears “Be a good boy and you will be acceptable.” It sets off a string of thoughts: “If I just work hard enough I’ll be okay, I can do this, I can be good, I can make God happy (or at least avoid His wrath). Yes, I can prove that I deserve salvation.”
So he works on committees, gives more money, ushers for a while. But he simply replaces one performance-based system with another. It ends up being “three and out” – three years of “effort” to be a good Christian, a failure, then dropping out – even though he will often continue to attend church.
Commitment is important – no true believer discounts obedience, good deeds, and service. But “commitment” is the second word of salvation.
The first word of salvation needs to be “surrender.” When we ask a man to surrender to Jesus, it evokes a very different string of thoughts: “I need help, I can’t do this on my own, I can’t manage my life, I must yield, I must humble myself, I need grace. Yes, I need a Savior. Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
So, it is not good unless a man is both surrendered and committed, but surrender comes first. Commitment should be the overflow of surrender. It is the difference between salvation by works (performance) and salvation by faith (grace). And that, my friend, is all the difference in the world.
© 2002 Patrick M. Morley. All rights reserved. This article may be reproduced for any non-commercial use with proper attribution.