On page 141 of the book Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, Ellen White reminds us that we are all engaged in a fierce spiritual battle. In fact, it is “the greatest battle that was ever fought by man.” Yet it does not involve military weapons or threats from foreign enemies, it involves “the surrender of self to the will of God, the yielding of the heart to the sovereignty of love.” The reason this is such an intense battle is because the human heart lusts for independence from God (Romans 8:7). To surrender, or yield, runs contrary to our natural inclinations. We instinctively kick back against any possibility of becoming subject or servant to power other than our own. We want control of our own lives; we want to be seated, unchallenged, on the throne of our own hearts.
But one of the fascinating paradoxes of Scripture is that when we surrender our hearts to the sovereignty of God’s love, we actually begin to experience true freedom. Yes, following Jesus calls for complete surrender to His will. It requires the power-hungry sinner to become a servant. Yet by becoming His servants we are liberated from the bondage we initially feared.
when we surrender our hearts to the sovereignty of God’s love, we actually begin to experience true freedom.
When you give up control of your life and surrender to Jesus, you are, in a sense, actually taking control. Why? Because we are utterly incapable of achieving the very things we were created to long for: meaning, self-less love, true satisfaction, a clear conscience, etc. Our independent hearts are constantly seeking for these things but can never truly lay hold of them. These are the very things that Jesus’ rulership achieves. All the vital components of life’s true essence are found in the person of Christ. So in this sense, by abdicating your throne, or control of your life, you are actually guaranteeing the very things your essence needs to exist meaningfully.
This is precisely why Jesus promises “if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36), and at the same time invites us to “become slaves of God” (Romans 6:22). But don’t miss this point: we are not free in spite of the fact that we are slaves of Christ. We are free because we are slaves of Christ!
No wonder the apostles seem to brag about being bondservants of Jesus as they introduced themselves (Romans 1:1; James 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1; Jude 1). To them, being slaves of Jesus is the equivalent to being truly free. They were overwhelmed by the sovereignty of God’s love and were compelled by the reality that only as they abdicated their thrones could they begin to truly live as they were created to.