“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal 2: 20).
Recovery from abuse involves more than just flight from an abusive childhood or a past abusive relationship. It involves defining our own space, and rejecting further abusive behavior, whenever and wherever we may encounter such behavior.
In light of this, it is hardly surprising that the Christian concept of “surrender” should have ominous overtones for victims. They have had enough of surrender, enough of a power differential which invariably favored their abusers.
Spiritual surrender to Christ (also, known as dying to Him) is illustrated by foregoing the natural inclination toward revenge and instead “turning the other cheek” (Matt. 5: 39), behavior for which genuine Christians are known .
By Their Fruits
But surrender to Christ does not imply submission to petty tyrants and counterfeit saviors. Nor does surrender to Christ imply complicity in evil. Victims should be justly wary of those seeking to confuse the two. In the search for love and support, many have fallen prey to false messiahs and destructive cults (including cults misappropriating the label “Christian”).
The Bible tells us, “You will know them by their fruits” (Matt. 7: 16). This is a useful test both for identifying cults and abusive individuals. Regardless of the label or language used as camouflage, actions will give away a group or individual’s real intentions.
To reach the point Christians call surrender to Christ abuse victims must first rediscover their true value. Christ affirms that value, revealing how precious they, in fact, are to Him. Only having confronted that amazing reality are victims ready to lay their natural selves down at Christ’s feet.
“The Christian life is a life in which an indwelling Christ casts out, and therefore quickens, self. We gain ourselves when we lose ourselves. His abiding in us does not destroy but heightens our individuality.”
– “MacLaran’s Expositions of Holy Scripture, From Centre to Circumference, Galatians 2: 20” http://biblehub.com/commentaries/maclaren/galatians/2.htm
 Note that revenge and self-defense are distinct from one another. Scripture permits Christians to defend themselves and their children. Criminal prosecution, society’s response to the wrong, is yet a third alternative.
With thanks to Susanne Schuberth
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