Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?" --Matthew 16:24-26
We honor God best when we surrender our rights to the glory of His service.
The 1981 movie "Chariots of Fire" recounts in moving fashion the story of Olympic champion Eric Liddell, including his devotion to God. His "chariot of fire" eventually carried him from the heights of Olympic glory to the very private, barely-noticed life as a missionary in pre-WWII China.
"Complete surrender." Those were the words Liddell often chose to use to describe his devotion to Christ. He used them to describe to reporters why he raced competitively, as the crowds celebrated his Olympic victory in 1924. They were also the words he used to explain why he was leaving athletic fame behind to serve Christ as a missionary in China. While it is easy to admire Liddel's faithfulness when it brought attention and glory, it is more difficult for the culture to make sense of his choices when complete surrender├?┬Ł called for him to give up the things this world prizes.
Liddell's complete surrender meant carrying the Gospel in humility and relative anonymity by foot and bicycle to rural Chinese citizens. When Japanese troops swept murderously across the "the land of the golden dawn", most Westerners and even most missionaries heeded their governments' persistent pleas to leave China. Liddell stayed, convinced the people he served in peacetime would need him even more in the midst of conflict and war. He stayed, in other words, to serve his Savior and the people he loved.
"Complete surrender" were also reported as Liddell's final words, spoken just before he died of a brain tumor in a dingy Japanese prison camp.
Like the Flying Scotsman (Liddell's Olympic nickname), we followers of Jesus have enlisted in service to a Kingdom not easily understood by our coworkers or our culture. We, too, can be tempted away from sacrifice and service to a life lived for self; to think of ourselves as owners with rights, instead of stewards with obligations.
But just as Jesus surrendered Himself entirely for our salvation, so too must we now surrender ourselves entirely to His service. For those of us who know Him as Savior will never be fully content and fulfilled until we also know Him as Lord.