In the exciting areas of life and the monotonous, in the places where we feel confident and sure or the ones where we’ve been waiting for an answer for a long time, what does it mean to live surrendered? Join Odalis as she explores this idea through a section of John Stott’s “Basic Christianity.”
Hello, welcome to Faith Moments. My name is Odalys. I’m part of the pastoral team at Cornerstone SF. I’m so glad we get to have this time. Whether you’re tuning in live for our premier here this Thursday morning, or you’re tuning in a little later, welcome. My sincere hope and prayer are for the Lord to meet you in your life, your pursuit of Him, your questions, and in your hopes.
Today for our time, I wanted to share some snippets from a book I read a couple of years ago called Basic Christianity by John Stott. John Stott was a highly respected theologian, an author, and a teacher. This book though is small. It’s pretty tiny, but it’s packed. It’s deep. It’s essentially his presentation of what Christianity really means in its deepest and most straightforward way. He walks through all of the implications, both for those who are newer to Christianity, for those who have some history, and for those who are further along. I really got so much from this book. Obviously, we’re not going to cover the whole thing. We’re just going to zoom in on one portion from chapter nine if you get the book. I would encourage you to do so. He really challenges the readers to fully believe God, to fully surrender to Him as we live lives of wholehearted devotion. Some of the implications of it. So we’ll just sit through it. I would love to pray before we start.
Jesus, we welcome you here in this space. We thank you for this morning, God. We thank you for the opportunity we have no matter where we are to turn to you. Lord, we thank you for the privilege and the gift it is to have access to each other across the internet from our phones. Lord, how you’ve enlarged our worlds in a sense, God, and given us greater opportunity really to meet you in those places. We thank you for this time. We bring our lives before you and ask for you to speak to us here. Holy Spirit, you are welcome and we asked for you to speak. We pray these things in your good name, Jesus. Amen.
So for a little context, I read this book in a small study a few years ago. A few of us were being invested in our leadership and faith at 7:30 in the morning, it was a whole thing. We went through this book, which is really so devotional, so personal in a sense, and we balanced it with a book that discussed Christianity from a more historical perspective. Though this book, as I said, it’s short and deep, I would really encourage you to get a copy and read through it. You can buy used ones for less than $5 on Amazon for example.
The biggest impact for me was how Stott really shakes away and dismantles the idea of a casual or convenient approach to our faith. If we fully grasp, then we begin to grasp the implications of Christ as Lord, the reality of his crucifixion, and resurrection in our lives. There’s no aspect of our lives that goes unaffected. It’s part of why our faith is always growing, always in process. Why we are always in progress. We get to continually learn and grow.
There are many good snippets in this book. But the one I want to share here in our time connects to the message series we’re in at Cornerstone. We’re talking about surrender. We’re talking about living lives that are open to God that bring all of our cares, pains, and all aspects of our lives before Him and invite His way. For His will to be done. I was skimming through and noted a passage that was one of the ones that stood out to me most when I read it again a few years ago. I love how it ties into this theme we’re in as a church right now. If you haven’t been able to watch the messages they’re available online. I think on YouTube, too. Our worship from the start of service is connected too, you can just sit and soak that in whenever.
In this chapter, chapter nine in the book, he discusses counting the cost. Jesus talked about how when people go out to build, they don’t just start building, buying, and doing all of the things involved in building a building without first counting the cost. Without having an understanding of what it’s going to take to complete the project. You’re not going to set a frame of a building up and then just leave it. You want to make sure you can see it through. Stott discusses some of the costs of what it means to follow Jesus. Though there is a cost and His grace is a gift freely given for us, there is this surrendering of ourselves in a sense. This change happens within us. A cost that comes. It is always more gain than it is a loss or a cost.
What I loved about this chapter, and here’s where we’ll go, is that Stott discusses the counting of the cost. He talks about it as an inherent and inseparable part that is also the purpose God gives to each of us. He gives us each a purpose. He doesn’t just invite us into change for change’s sake. He has a purpose, an intention for each human being that He has created in His image. As we become His, all areas of our lives become His. As we pursue Him in this place, we discover our purpose or calling as we sometimes refer to it.
Here’s the section that I loved. We’re talking about counting the cost and how there’s a purpose for each of us. Scott says in chapter nine, “Do not be in too great a hurry to discover God’s will for your life. If you were surrendered to it and wait on God to disclose it, He will make it known to you in His own time. Whatever it proves to be, the Christian can not be idle. Whether he is an employer, he or she, an employee, or self-employed, he has a heavenly master. He learns to grasp God’s purpose in his work and labors at it with all his heart as serving the Lord and not men.” That last section there is from Colossians 3:23, which says, “Whatever you do work heartily as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord, you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”
This Stott passage, for the context text, we start with, there is a cost. There is a purpose. There is beauty. There’s a reality to following Christ. There’s a devotion that is built into it. There’s a wholeheartedness that it requires. There’s a purpose for every single human being. Don’t rush it. Remember, that part of what this devotion looks like is waiting on God’s timing. Waiting is not passive. Waiting in the Lord is not idle. Everything we do, all of our seasons, whatever we’re waiting on, whatever we haven’t yet discovered our purpose in, maybe we’re in a season, a season of transition right now. I know so many people who are looking at this new season with things reopening and relocations that have happened, all of that. This is a season of change, of rediscovering our purpose and calling. There is a newness to it. In all of those places, there is a purpose and a surrendered open, humble posture that we are invited to take. To pursue God and wait on His timing, not rushing it.
I remember reading this. I think I had to be honest, that season I was just starting to lock into my own sense of calling. My own sense of yes. My own understanding of this is where God is inviting me to put my heart, effort, gifts, and invest, to really commit here. There had been a sense for so many years of wanting to have that clarity. Finally being in a sense, oh, but don’t rush it. There’s been a purpose to all these years. There’s been a purpose to all of this time. Because it was productive, seeking the Lord, growing, devotion, and all of that, I was ready for His timing in that sense.
All of this committing to knowing God, fully living that devotional life, seeking out our purpose intentionally, and committing to His timing faithfully is connected in every area of our lives. Not just what we do for our income. Not just what we do for our jobs, as much as we may love our jobs and/or dislike our jobs. Whatever it is, all of these areas of our lives are to be connected intentionally, devotionally to God. Working for Him, choosing Him, and paying attention to Him in our work, free time, and relationships.
The next thing Stott talks about in his book is if we’re living these lives of devotion, how much more important is that in the most intimate relationships in our lives? In our friendships, our romantic pursuits, or our family dynamics? It includes our hobbies. What we do with that spare time, the recreational activities that can be so filling and refreshing, but also can be areas of un-health if we’re not being intentional.
It includes our wealth. How we spend our time, focus, and energy. All of these areas when we’re living lives of devotion and pursuing God. When we have clarity of purpose, or we’re still looking to discover it, all of these areas get brought into our faith. And yes, I love this. His purpose is in serving others in our lives. Yes, Maria, that is our purpose. No matter what our giftings are, God has invited us to use them for others. It’s how we get most filled.
In the areas of our lives where we have clarity and know what to do, we’re doing it with all of our might. We do it unto the Lord, not unto human bosses or ourselves. We do it for the Lord as if He were literally the boss we had a check-in with every week, month, quarter, or annual review. In a sense, we do. He cares. He sees every detail. He is more invested in what we do even than we are. How much more important is it to honor Him in those places. In the areas we’re waiting on, whatever those areas are. We should be productive and fruitful in the meantime. Not waiting on human beings’ timing, but waiting as if we were sitting attentively to the Lord.
In all of our areas, we come surrendered, open and humble. This is what surrender in the Lord ultimately looks like. It’s saying, “God, I may know. I may not know in both areas, I choose your way over my own. In both areas, I choose to make the most of the days that you have given me. I choose to be a good steward.” That’s what that means.
My encouragement for us coming out of this is a little bit of a self-audit. If you’re open to it, I would encourage you to grab a piece of paper, a journal, even a whiteboard, or just a note on your phone and take stock. Take stock of the areas of your life that are important to you. That might be a huge list or it might be a really refined list. It just depends on where you’re at in life. Sometimes it changes. In all of these areas, what is the clarity we feel we have from the Lord? Do we feel like we have clarity? Are we being purposeful in the areas where we feel we’re waiting and don’t have that clarity yet? If we are being purposeful, what does that look like? If we’re not being purposeful yet, how can we be? Where is there hurry in our lives? Can we slow down and let God’s timing rather than our own be our priority? Most of all, is the condition of our heart one of surrender? Of trust? Of choosing God’s will over our own? This is something that we do throughout our lives.
As I’ve spoken with people who are much further along than me and the Lord who I get to learn from, they continually have seasons of doing this, the self-audit of sorts. Over and over, re-evaluating and resetting before God and asking Him, what is your will in my life, may it be done? That’s how I would love for us to pray here as we close in this time. Join me in praying if you’re comfortable and if you’re comfortable, let’s pray with open hands. This posture of surrender.
Jesus, we thank you for who you are. That you have created each of us with a purpose. God, that nothing you ask of us is in vain, is of any kind of selfishness, is of any kind of weird purpose, God, but everything you ask of us is in line with your design for us. It is for a purpose. It is for good. It is for our growth, for hope, and for life itself. For healing and transformation, Lord. We thank you that for each of us, you have a purpose. You’ve given us each gifts to be used for others and to help us to see you at work, God. We bring ourselves before you open and humble. We thank you for the ways we have clarity and ask for you to help us to be good stewards, purposeful and intentional in those areas. To honor you in them. In the areas, we feel we have a little less clarity. The areas we feel we’re waiting on you, whether it’s work, whether it’s a relationship, whether it’s health, all of these areas in our lives, God. In a sense, we’ve been waiting here in the Bay Area for 14 months to go back to a sense of normalcy from being home. We’re arriving in a new season. God, in these areas of waiting, we come to you open, humble, and surrendered. We ask for your will to be done. We ask for your help to be purposeful in the meantime. Help us to not be idle, but to wait with purpose. We give you ourselves, God. We ask for your will to be done in our lives. Jesus, we love you. We ask for your spirit to fill us that we can walk in partnership with you. We thank you for the promise you gave us. We pray these things in your good and beautiful name. Amen.
God bless you. May He guide you. May He speak to you. May our hearts be open and soft so that we could hear Him. Thank you for joining and I’ll see you next time.