Conditional Surrender: An updated excerpt from “Dare to Call Him Friend“, by Katherine Walden, available on Amazon.
There is no conditional surrender in the Kingdom of God. This truth was never more apparent than in a maximum-security prison I visited in Colombia, South America. Conditions were harsh. The prisoners lived in cramped and dark cellblocks that looked over a small courtyard. Most of the men would never again see freedom as most were serving life sentences. Some guards refused to enter into gang-governed cellblocks, and cartels controlled much of the prison’s everyday life. The fact that our missionary group gained permission to enter the prison’s open-air courtyard was a miracle in itself.
Our group performed a powerful creative dance and mime that presented the whole gospel, including creation, the rebellion of Satan and the fall of man. It also portrayed the life, death and resurrection of Christ. It was difficult to discern what was happening in the barred cellblocks, but we could hear gasps as the creative dance’s choreography depicted the brutality of Jesus’ death.
Taking advantage of the immediate silence that followed the performance, a local missionary invited the crowd watching us from the shadows to surrender their lives to Jesus. When he asked for a show of hands, hundreds of prisoners responded. Many of them waved both hands through the bars of their cells. The missionary was stunned by the response!
The inmates knew that surrender to Jesus Christ would give them no advantage in prison.
Our missionary friend thought perhaps they did not understand. Once again, he presented the gospel message through a rapid-fire torrent of fiery words. Although my Spanish was limited, I knew he challenged the men to surrender unconditionally. He urged the inmates to lay down their manipulation, their corruption, their weapons and their drugs. The inmates knew that a confession of faith in Jesus Christ would give them no advantage with officials; early paroles were rare occurrences in Colombia.
After a brief pause, the missionary asked for a show of hands. More hands were raised after his second entreaty than his first. Prison guards and warden staff also gave their lives to Christ. At least 1,100 new believers entered the Kingdom that day.
Years later, I learned through a first-hand report just how much our visit changed that prison. Organized crime within the prison dropped dramatically, and the few remaining corrupt guards were exposed. When prisoners transferred to other facilities within the penal system, they considered themselves missionaries.
There is no negotiation at the cross. Either we give our whole lives to Him, or we do not.
James 4:1-6 (MSG) – Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves. You lust for what you don’t have and are willing to kill to get it.
You want what isn’t yours and will risk violence to get your hands on it. You wouldn’t think of just asking God for it, would you? And why not?
Because you know you’d be asking for what you have no right to. You’re spoiled children, each wanting your own way. You’re cheating on God. If all you want is your own way, flirting with the world every chance you get, you end up enemies of God and his way. And do you suppose God doesn’t care? The proverb has it that “he’s a fiercely jealous lover.” And what he gives in love is far better than anything else you’ll find. It’s common knowledge that “God goes against the willful proud; God gives grace to the willing humble.”
Are there areas of your life that you know you have deliberately kept back from God? Are you guilty of a half-hearted surrender? Have you asked Him to look the other way as you indulge in secret sin? Have you expected Him to bless you in your finances, but you are not completely honest with the government about those finances?
When we turn our lives over to His care, we begin the process of being transformed into His image. As we allow Him free access to all areas of our lives, we discover our God is a generous Father. He delights in giving His children good gifts purely out of His love for us. We also learn that He is a wise Father. He knows that His children need to clean up their messes with His help. He is not a God who is easily manipulated or coerced by temper tantrums!
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All Bible verses attributed to the ESV version unless otherwise indicated.
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Until Next Week,
©2014, ©2020 Katherine Walden