Summary: Control. We bristled under the thought that someone else might be controlling us. And we revel in the thought that we can control our lives. In fact, many of us, if we’re honest, are control freaks.
Dave Navarro has written an article entitled, “The 5 People Who Secretly Control Your Life.” In it, he says, what you may not realize is just how many people influence your life, feeding you ideas about what is “right,” “wrong,” “good,” “bad,” and practically every other subjective decision-making criteria that guides your life. Some of these ideas are good for you, while others are bad. In fact, there are more people than you’d like to admit secretly controlling your life by influencing how you make your most important, life-guiding choices. They’re “secret” because we usually don’t know that it’s going on.” The 5 influences he names are: your heroes, your nemesis, your parents, your partner or spouse, and your image of who we should be.
Control. We bristled under the thought that someone else might be controlling us. And we revel in the thought that we can control our lives. In fact, many of us, if we’re honest, are control freaks. How many of you have issues of control when it comes to your personal life? This idea of control is deeply imbedded in our culture, our value of freedom and the American dream. The American Dream states that anyone can succeed through hard work and has the potential to lead a happy, successful life. You have control of who you become but the direction of your life.
Rather than choosing to control his own life, Jesus instead chose to surrender everything to the will of God. When Jesus went into the wilderness and was tempted, it was an exercise over control of his life. Would he be in control or would he surrender it to God? And when Jesus was on the cross, he was tempted to take back control first by the passersby who cried out, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God! And second by the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders who mocked him. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.’” Matthew 27:40 Instead, as our Scripture today shows Jesus “humbled himself by becoming obedient to death- even death on a cross!” Jesus would go on to confess, "I can do nothing on my own". John 5:30 And he calls those who follow him to do the same, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew16:24-25
Jesus’ answer to our control problems: Surrender. We are called to surrender but we often bristle at the very idea. The last thing we want to do is give up control. Many of us still live under the illusion that we are in control of our lives, when in fact nothing could be further from the truth. Times when we have taken control and messed up our own life is proof enough or when our lives have spun out of control and we can do nothing to stop it. Still, letting go of control and giving it over to someone else, even God, is a frightening prospect. Maybe it's the word "surrender" which we usually associate with defeat, humiliation, and losing. Our world never considers surrender a good thing. No one wants to lose, and no one wants to admit defeat. We are taught instead never to give up and never give in. If winning is everything, surrendering is unthinkable.