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.