We sing quite a lot of songs in church about self-sacrifice. ‘I will offer up my life’, ‘Lord, I give You my heart’, ‘All to Jesus I surrender.’ I don’t think I ever have, or ever will, meet someone who can sing those words and completely mean them. No matter how good our intentions may be, we all get distracted by our own ambitions and plans from time to time. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t sing these songs. I think they’re a great prayer to sing out, longing to be more like the God who made us and gave us the perfect example of self-sacrifice when His only Son died for us on the cross.
But I was listening to a Phil Wickham song yesterday that really helped me gain a bit of perspective on this whole issue. It’s called ‘All of me’, and you can tell straight from the title that this is his ‘Lord, I’m giving my life to You’ song. Yet I found the lyrics to this one particularly helpful. The first verse says:
Take these hands
I know they’re empty
But with You they can
Be used for beauty
In Your perfect plan
All I am is Yours
You can have a listen to the song at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXBr5W27pao.
What really struck me was the acknowledgement that, actually, I don’t really have anything to ‘surrender’ because I already belong to God; all I am is already His. An Owl City song uses 2 Corinthians 5:17 as a basis to say, ‘I am not my own, for I have been made new’ (Meteor Shower). It’s such a glorious but challenging truth at the same time. It’s glorious because we have been made by and for a powerful God who loves us and wants the best for us. It’s challenging because we’re selfish and want to keep in control of what we do. But it’s a truth nonetheless: all that we are already belongs to God.
Of course, this still requires an active response; we can still ‘give’ ourselves to God. But this only comes through an appreciation and acknowledgement of the fact that we are already His possession. He created us, He paid for our salvation so that we could enjoy a relationship with Him, He has a perfect plan for our lives that is obviously far better than any plans we may have for ourselves.
I still remember the first time it clicked in me what Jesus was talking about when He said, having been asked about paying taxes to Caesar, ‘Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s’ (Matthew 22:21). For a while I had thought that this just meant that you ought to give God offerings and tithes and all that stuff, which wasn’t really a very exciting interpretation to me! But Jesus had asked those who had questioned Him, ‘Whose likeness and inscription is this [on the coin]?’ ‘Caesar’s,’ they had replied. However, when you ask that question about us, ‘Whose image and inscription do we bear?’ clearly the answer is, ‘God’s.’ We bear His image, so we are His. We ought to give Him our lives because they are rightfully His. I don’t know why I forget this so readily (well, I guess I can think of several reasons, but it stills seems a bit ridiculous to ignore such a fundamental aspect of my identity!), but it’s so important to remember this if we truly want to give ‘all we are’ to God.
Galatians 2:20 says, ‘I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.’ Let us remember that it is Christ who lives in us. Though our hands are empty, with Him they can be used for beauty. Though our feet stumble, He can use the weak. Let’s offer our lives to God and His purposes for us, remembering that our lives are already His, and let’s see what amazing things God does through us when we don’t try to do it ourselves!