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I surrender all. I surrender all. All to Jesus…I surrender… I surrender all.

 “I fucking hate that aspect of Christianity. The idea that you have to give up everything – your power, your agency – to some magical God that will magically fix your fucking mundane problems.”

Bob always loved punctuating his lines with profanity. He was letting off some residual anger he felt during the school assembly where one teacher did an interpretive dance to an evangelical song. I chuckled genuinely, but felt no harm in hearing his diatribe.

“So accepting Jesus means to whine and bitch to a God like a child rather than face reality and work through problems…Christianity strips people of their power and forces them to crawl under the blanket of religion.”

I surrender all. I surrender all. All to Jesus, I surrender….I. surrender. all.

I’m recalling my friend’s words now during Sunday Communion, and ironically enough the music leaders are singing, “I Surrender All”, against the irritating background hum of the Casio synthesizer piano. I’m sitting on a stackable, trapezoidal banquet chair, the kind that is designed to withstand the abuse and weight of elephants rather than cushion the human body, and shivering from the blast of the icy AC. While people patiently line up to receive their stale wafers and grape juice – the body and blood of Christ – I sit, shivering my ass off and listening to the dutiful servers mechanically punctuate the background noise of “I Surrender All” with, “Grace and peace to you in the Lord Jesus Christ” each time a wafer is taken. With my head buried in my hands, my thoughts vacillate between contemplative reflection of the lyrics and my conversation with Bob.

Bob’s right. Why should we surrender all to Jesus? Isn’t this just another form of escapism? Do I fall back on my religion when the responsibility of living becomes too begrudging? Do I surrender everything to an ideal – the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-everything God – because I cannot bear my own weight in this world? Does God become the exit strategy, the plan B, in case our dreams to conquer, to succeed, to live, suddenly transform into a horrible bureaucratic nightmare like the Afghanistan war? Am I shirking my responsibility?

Yes, yes, yes. If any of the above is true, then God, even if he is real, would not be glorified by this kind of fatalistic, resigned attitude, for I am manipulating him to inject some hormonal significance into my sorry, underfed being. And yet, Bonhoeffer’s stark but comforting words still whisper in my ear as encouragement:

“It displays not the slightest interest in the psychological reasons for a man’s religious decisions. And why? For the simple reason that the cause behind the immediate following of call by response is Jesus Christ himself.”

So…yes, surrender is stupid, but it’s an absolute requirement to follow Christ. Because it takes the ultimate humility from humanity to recognize that our free will cannot will itself into salvation. Without Christ, I can live a clean, moral life, but I cannot live as a free man. For only in full surrender to another’s Will am I truly free from making decisions for myself.


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