What qualities must be present in the believer to be used by God to build His Church? Here is the list as I see it:
- Complete surrender to God
That’s it. One item. Everything else follows nicely after surrender.
Paul gives us a description of what this kind of surrender looks like in Philippians 3:8–11 (ESV)
8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Paul surrendered everything he had been prior to his encounter with the risen Jesus on the road. This surrender laid the foundation for the ministry that Paul was to have. Earlier in the same letter (Philippians 2:5-11) Paul points to Jesus as an example of one who surrendered his will to the father.
I am not writing this as one who has achieved this. It would be more accurate to say that I want to surrender and am in the process of doing so. The words of John Donne’s Holy Sonnet 14 come to mind as they seem to express this desire as a prayer:
Batter my heart, three-person’d God ; for you
As yet but knock ; breathe, shine, and seek to mend ;
That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp’d town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but O, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betroth’d unto your enemy ;
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.
I am finding that as I learn to surrender control and follow God’s lead, there is peace in the midst of uncertainty. I’m learning to be OK with not seeing how it all fits together. I’m learning to be OK with leaving people and events in God’s hands. I’m beginning to better understand where the extent of my responsibility ends and be content with the piece that God gives me to do.
Here’s to raising the white flag . . .