When we fail to recognize the difference between being a chosen people, rather than “choice” people, we not only mess ourselves up, we mess up everyone else around us!
There is a huge difference between believing we are “choice” people, rather than a chosen people. It is the difference between the Pharisee and the tax collector in the Temple (Luke 18:9-14). The Pharisee saw himself as a “choice” person, and thanked God that he was not like other men. “I do this,” he boasted; “I do that.” On the other hand, the tax collector knew his condition; he was painfully aware that he was not “choice” by any means! The tax collector threw himself upon the mercy of God, praying that he would become one of God’s chosen people.
Let me clear up any confusion. God did not choose us because there was something special—something “choice”—about us. God initiates His gracious relationship with us; He is not responding to anything that we think or do or say. Hear His word to Israel:
You are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations. (Deuteronomy 7:6-9)
What a huge difference a single word can make! If we see ourselves as “choice” people—if we believe God chose us because He saw something valuable about us—we will place ourselves above our fellow man. We see our salvation as God’s response to who we are and what we have done to earn it. We think the blessings that are poured out on us are a result of having earned the favor of God. We begin to believe that we are better than everyone else and spend all our time building self-protective barriers around our tidy, controlled, and well-organized lives. We seek to erect gleaming ivory towers to keep out the great unwashed who are not as “choice” as we are, continually thanking God we are not like them. We are characterized by tribal mindedness instead of mission mindedness. We associate only with those who look like us, talk like us, dress like us, act like us, and think like us. We are puffed up with our special status in our elite club.
But this is not for you!
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit — fruit that will last. (John 15:16 NIV)
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. (1 Peter 2:9)
Think about it for a moment. Isn’t it better to be a chosen people rather than “choice” people? If we regard ourselves as “choice” people, we look only to ourselves for our comfort . . . as long we believe we have maintained our superior status. But what happens when our strength wanes, performance falters, and contribution lessons—when we begin to lose the reasons for being in the “choice” category? Would we not believe that God would set us aside . . . perhaps toss us on the discard pile to make room for someone else who is more “choice” than we currently are? We see that happen all the time to athletes who once were great heroes but are no longer “choice” in the eyes of their team. Some of the greatest players of all time are put up for trade or simply kicked to the curb. Is that how God will treat us?
If you think you are part of a “choice” people, you will locate your sense of identity, meaning, significance, and purpose in yourself. But when your “choice” status begins to change, so does your sense of identity, meaning, significance, and purpose. But to be a chosen person is to be wanted by your God for no other reason than He because He wanted you! “He chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In lovehepredestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will” (Ephesians 1:4-5). You have been chosen, not because of what you did do . . . can do . . . or will do for God, but simply because He chose to set His affections upon you. And He did it before the foundation of the world, in accordance with his pleasure and will—not yours!
What an enormous difference between being “choice” people or chosen people! As for me and my house, we are deeply grateful that we have been chosen to be on God’s team, knowing that we will never outlive our usefulness to Him. And when the day comes when—whether because of sin or illness or age—our service to God wanes, His love for us never, ever wavers. We can rest on His promise that “Neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!