Today, the entire world finds itself in a time of vast, uneasy change, where economic, social, political, and religious turmoil are the rule of the day not the exception. And now, we hear about the advent of AI. Our minds can only imagine how much that’s going to accelerate or increase what is already uneasy change.
Already, the constant bombardment produces a toxic environment of unresolved stress. Unresolved stress leads to disconnected lives. Disconnected lives lead to helplessness. Helplessness over time leads to inescapable hopelessness. Hopelessness eventually leads to desperation. And as we look around us, we can see the desperation because the final step after desperation is violence. That is what we see multiplying around us now.
Daily life also hits us with a myriad of mishaps, responsibilities, and failing interpersonal relationships in families adding to our daily stress. Some begin to feel they can’t escape from desperation.
In an article from Inc.com titled “4 Ways to Become More Relevant” Geoffrey James writes about combating this progression and how personal relevance plays an important part in battling helplessness from day to day. He writes: “Not everyone, however, is caught in this [haze] of helplessness …They’ve figured out how to be relevant.”
The Oxford English Dictionary defines relevance as “the state of being closely connected or appropriate to the matter in hand.” Living in the now.
Relevance is a thought process or state of mind where one finds himself connected to the crux or core issues affecting him and that he literally has an important part to play in the resolution. When one is connected and engaged, it gives a sense of purpose and control of one’s life.
For followers of Christ, being relevant means to be strongly connected to serving and fulfilling an important part of a larger scheme, not just our employment. A question to ask ourselves individually is: “Am I connected in serving and fulfilling an important part of a larger scheme, a grander plan with the ‘ultimate matter at hand’? Am I engaged in what God is doing?” We need to be connected to what’s happening now in our lives.
We all live a life in which we can think strategically out into the future, but the only thing we can do is tactically, something now, to achieve making what we are doing relevant to the future.
Let’s look at those who were relevant in the scriptures in the past. What led Abraham to be willing to sacrifice his son Isaac? What led Noah to spend a hundred and twenty years building an ark? What led Moses to faithfully lead the people of Israel through the wilderness for forty years? What led King David after he had been anointed king not to kill King Saul when he had more than one opportunity to do so? What led John the Baptist to accept that he must decrease while Christ increased? What led Paul to remain faithful though he suffered much for the name of Christ? What led Christ to say, “Not My will, but Your will be done”? Without a doubt, these were relevant men.
The book of Hebrews says they were men of faith, which is true. While faith is required, the relevancy was and will be due to what their faith led them to do. Let’s look at what Christ says about relevancy as far as our doing.
“For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously;” (1 Peter 2:21–23),
Christ committed Himself to the Father. He was relevant (significant) to God the Father’s plan. If we wish to be significant, we must do the same thing, to commit, to entrust ourselves, to surrender ourselves to God the Father who judges justly.
Surrender is absolutely necessary to become eternally relevant. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary surrender is an action verb. There is nothing passive about the word. It means to agree to stop fighting, to stop hiding, to stop resisting. It also means to give the control or use of something or someone to another.
Considering these definitions, when we surrender ourselves to God, what does it mean? Because in surrendering ourselves to God, we are serving not our plan but a much grander plan and hence we gain relevancy. But relevance from the point of view that we know God and that what He is accomplishing is not temporary, but permanent.
Here are a few more questions that we should ask ourselves. If we answer yes to any of these, then we must say that we are not unconditionally surrendered to God:
- Do I strive to control situations and others?
- Do I meticulously plan most things in my life?
- Do I feel disappointed if things don’t go as I planned?
- Do I feel or reveal agitation, anger, or any level of discontent or any hard heartedness?
- Do I struggle being thankful?
- Do I have unrealistic expectations of myself or others?
- Do I feel my solutions to problems are better than others?
- Do I push or express my way above those of others?
- Do my physical accomplishments determine my self-worth?
- Do I feel put off if my ideas are not accepted?
- Is my self-worth founded in how others view me?
All are thought-provoking questions. We all do these at times. Some more than others.
If someone is surrendering to God, surrender means these things:
- Waiting for God’s timing without knowing when it will come
- Following God’s lead without knowing where He is sending us
- Trusting God’s purpose without understanding the circumstances in which we find ourselves
- Expecting and recognizing miracles without knowing how God will provide
The desire to accomplish is not diminished, but the realization of who knows best is magnified. We need to be convinced that God has our best interest at heart. Scripture assures us of this: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Also, Christ is our perfect example of commitment to God – of surrender: “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross“(Philippians 2:6-8 ESV).
While there is no doubt that the Godhead possesses all power and control, They do not define themselves by that power and control. They define themselves by their mercy and graciousness, their nature and character.
“And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation” (Exodus 34:6-7).
Instead of claiming the power that He possessed, Christ allowed Himself to be subjected to death, to experience death like every man. He willingly surrendered setting the example of faith and obedience:
“[Christ] who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,” (Hebrews 5:7-9).
He gained His significance through His obedience, through His surrender to the Father, to be that perfect example for us. How contrary is this to man’s normal thinking? If surrendering was so essential for Jesus Christ, who was perfect, who was God, how much more is it for us who claim to be followers of Christ?
In Matthew 11:28-30 Christ says that surrender is actually the way to personal peace: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
To be a representative of God’s nature and character is a truly relevant, significant occupation, especially in this world. But without surrendering to God, we are incapable of fighting any spiritual battle. Simply put, we need to realize our spiritual condition is terminal and without God’s continual healing of our fallible state, we will fail. Without a humble mind surrendering is impossible.
God won’t give any man His Holy Spirit who isn’t humble. Humility comes from the word soil. And for the seed of the Holy Spirit to be planted into us that soil must exist: “The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit” (Psalm 34:18).
As we recognize our true spiritual condition, He lifts us so we can surrender.
“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4:7–10).
The first step is realizing how weak we are. However, Paul states our surrender makes us strong: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). And again: “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37–39).
Christ secured His relevancy through surrender to the Father and He sits at the right hand of the throne of God. And meanwhile He gives us strength through our surrender to run the same race. When we take a deeper look at surrender, it is all meant to lead each of us to the point where we admit that God is the One that will get us to the finish line, and that we by ourselves are inadequate. We don’t have the faith. We must admit, without exception, that God is our only hope and our only salvation. Christ living His life in us is our hope of eternal life.
When we are finally led to that point when, instead of giving up and becoming irrelevant, we give ourselves wholly to God, so He may accomplish whatever it is that He has for us to do now.
When it comes to experiencing the economic, social, political, and religious turmoil that’s going on around us, we can make ourselves significant and relevant by identifying and defining ourselves by God’s eternal purpose and plans for all humanity. By doing that, we will gain eternal life and eternal relevance.