Come, all Ye Misfits!

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But don’t take any of this for granted. It was only yesterday that you outsiders to God’s ways had no idea of any of this, didn’t know the first thing about the way God works, hadn’t the faintest idea of Christ. You knew nothing of that rich history of God’s covenants and promises in Israel, hadn’t a clue about what God was doing in the world at large. Now because of Christ—dying that death, shedding that blood—you who were once out of it altogether are in on everything. (Ephesians 2:11-13 THE MESSAGE)

Paul was writing here to people who had literally come out of a pagan background.  They had no idea about the God of the Old Testament, but because of the blood of Jesus Christ, God had brought them into His collection of people- and because of that blood of Christ, their subsequent faith, and the Holy Spirit living in them, they were a part of the people of God and got “in” on His promises!

I don’t know what your background is today- whether you grew up in a Bible believing, grace-filled church, or had some religious background, or no religious background at all.  But I do know that these verses are for you and I, because at one point in all of our lives we were outsiders to God’s ways and didn’t have the faintest idea about Christ.  But Christ’s shed blood brought you to believe and trust in Him, and your life was never the same again.  If you don’t yet know about Christ in your heart and soul this is an invitation for you.  It doesn’t matter how much or how little amount of “sinning” you have done!  You need Jesus.  You and I need Jesus. 

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“Chosen By God”: A Statement Made by Arrogant Christians?

Is there "free will" in heaven? What...

Is there “free will” in heaven? What about “free will” in life? (Photo credit: Zombie Inc. Wholesale Zombies for Over 25 years)

 

Many label followers of Jesus as arrogant because we claim that we are “chosen by God”.  Being one who has lived a life both outside and inside the collection of believers that we call “the church”, I have certainly once embodied and also observed this pretentiousness.  It is a general human need within all of us to desire to feel included, or even… “special”…

Yet this whole concept of being “chosen by God” is something far heavier and more meaningful than some ethereal being’s pithy vote of confidence towards his created order.  Scripture says (of God’s people) that; “you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.  Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2:9-10)

When Peter uses these terms like “chosen race, royal priesthood, holy nation and a people for (God’s) own possession”, he is referring to what is said of Israel in Exodus 19:5-6, that if they obeyed God, they would be a treasured possession among all people of the earth…  a “kingdom of priests and a holy nation”.  God desired that Israel be unique in the beautiful, good way they lived.  He also desired that they become a blessing and example to all the nations around them.  When Israel wasn’t blowing it, they certainly were this.

And these promises bleed over into the age of the Messiah, where Jesus has come.  We as the church are part of the old and new promises of God towards His people.  Those who truly hear God’s voice will understand that they have been called out as a “chosen race”.  This delineation is of no affiliation with skin color or ethnicity, it is a widely diverse array of people who have been snatched “out of darkness” and  “into the marvelous light” of God’s love and pure goodness.

God lives outside of time, and knows all that will happen throughout history.  Therefore, He already knows who will follow His ways and who won’t.  We as human beings are limited, and have no idea who will know and follow God, but God surely knows.  After all, He is God.

“Once we were not a people, but now we are God’s people.”  From the beginning of time, God has always desired that those who were far away from Him, or ignorant of His ways, would really know Him.  This verse in 1 Peter 2:10 is also referring to Hosea 1:6, & 9-10, where Israel, who had been referred to as a whore that wouldn’t be faithful to God, would be restored despite their unfaithfulness to Him, because of His unfailing love.  This is true of all of us, deep down we have prostituted hearts and are unfaithful to God because we desire our own comforts and pleasures (though they lead us to nothing but ruin!).  Despite all of that, the call is for all of us- God’s loving arms reach out in forgiveness and restoration to those of us who have ears to hear His call.

“Once we had not received mercy, but now we have received mercy.”  Those of us who hear the beauty of this call realize that we are truly forgiven and free, and no longer need to live under the heavy burden of guilt, shame and compulsive addiction to world and self-destruction.  The mercy of God is the greatest gift ever given.

So to summarize, being “chosen” is not a declaration of arrogant moral superiority.  On the contrary, it is an act of divine mercy from an insanely loving God towards an insanely ungrateful and selfish people.  When understood as it is, it should only bring humility and grace into the heart of a follower of Jesus.