Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Chosen

Jesus said: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last” (John 15:16). Christianity is unique. One of the uniqueness of Christianity can be found in the election of the followers. The way of this world is the complete opposite of the way of Christianity. Just like a person chooses who will be his/her soul mate, so the plants choose their farmers. Today we can see more vividly that students choose their teachers, employee choose their employers, servants choose their masters, followers choose their leaders, vassals choose their suzerains, people choose their politicians/presidents/prime ministers/kings/queens, and believers choose their gods. But only Jesus said: “You did not choose me, but I chose you.”

Twenty five hundred years ago Confucius set out a long journey touring the entire China with the sole purpose of finding the wise prince who would do the way of humanity and be obedient to the mandate of heaven. After fourteen years Confucius went home empty handed. Amazingly, he could not find anyone under heaven who would uphold the way of humanity. Confucius, known as the wisest man ever lived in Asia, was looking for a wise master but could not find any. So he went home disappointed. When Jesus came to the world to seek His people, the world that He created rejected Him. He sacrificed Himself for His people. Instead of coming home to heaven disappointed, He brought home victory, the greatest victory the world will ever know. Confucius went looking for a master, but Jesus came looking for His disciples. Confucius went home empty, Jesus went home successful. Christians are privileged because the Master came down to seek us. While for Confucius, no Master sought him.

The way of the world dislikes the way of God. God’s way is for God to choose His people. The world’s way is for the people to choose their gods. Samuel was crying when Israel demanded a king. Samuel thought he was rejected as God’s prophet. But God said to Samuel: “it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you” (I Samuel 8:7-8). The fall of Adam and Eve marks the first democracy. And ever since the fall, humans’ tendency is to choose for themselves rather than allowing others, even God, to choose for them. Even little kids tend to refuse the wiser or better choice their parents make for them and insist on the poor and foolish choice they make for themselves. The way of the world as we have inherited from Adam and Eve has contributed greatly to the chaos, the pain, and the turmoil we endure on earth. Just a simple matter causes a great trouble, and this simple matter is about choice. Jean Paul Sartre, an existentialist, argues that the meaning of life resides on human choice. Our life is meaningful only when we make our choice. If we can’t choose, then life is meaningless. But we should also understand that the true meaning of life can also be robbed when one makes the wrong choice. Sartre falls short of his perspective because he does not believe there is a God. If God doesn’t exist then all our choices can only be measured by our own standard. The problem is how one can judge others' choice while all humans are equal? This leads to each person for him/herself. Eventually this leads to all the problems of humanity. Since we choose by our own standard, so no one should intervene. We become our own standard. Our own individual self becomes our own standard. We choose who we want to become. If we want to be a mechanic, then nobody can stop us from becoming one. If we want to eat hamburger, then nobody can stop us from eating. If we want to become gay, then nobody may forbid. However, there are many things in life that we cannot choose, but given. And such condition does not constitute meaninglessness. Moreover, the given condition that does not depend on our own choice, many times, constitutes the deepest meaning of our life. For example, we can’t choose our parents. We can’t even choose our physical appearance. We also cannot choose our gender. We cannot choose our racial heritage. Some people do try to change themselves in many ways so to depart radically from their original condition given since their existence. But yet they can’t betray their origin. As different as they have changed themselves, their origin can’t be altered. One can’t turn back time and change history. Our origin and many other things that make us who we are are a given.

The Scripture starts with God creating the world in the beginning. Our nature is created in such a way that everything we are depend on God. We are chosen to be humans. God chose for us. When I was a kid I thought to myself: “Why am I not a monkey? Why I am a human? Why am I not a tiger?” and so on. Nobody can answer such question. The Word of God only can answer it. I am who I am because God chose me to be. My nature can’t be altered. Once a human forever I am human. A radical person tried to change her appearance by tattoo. She wanted to look like a tiger, so she made her entire body tattooed in such a way so she would look like a tiger. But as much as she tries so hard to change her appearance, her very being does not change. She is still a human being. God’s choice gives us meaning. We might deflect from the meaning God has given us, but our action does not make it better. Once we deny the meaning God gives us, then we have lost the true meaning, even though we choose our action.

There is another secret I want to expound to you. This is a deeper secret. The apostle Paul points out: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. …, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:3-6, 13-14). Jesus came to the world and sought His people. He went back to heaven victorious. The people belonging to Jesus were chosen by God even before the existence of the world. The decree of God was made in eternity before there is time and space. God has made a choice regarding us even before we came to be. This shows how God’s people have been a priority in the mind of the One true God. How can one love someone who is not yet in existence? But yet God has loved us since before we existed. This is the deep secret. As God’s people, as Jesus’ disciples, we are chosen by God. Being chosen by God surpasses any meaning we can create through our choices. Even if we are given an infinite number of choices to make, and even if all our choices are good ones, none or not even all our good choices combined can be compared to THE CHOICE made by the God of heaven and earth for us to be adopted as His children for eternity. God’s choice surpasses all. This is the glory of God.

God is very serious with His choice. The chosen is given the best of the best. God did not send an angel or a human being to secure our salvation. He sent His one and only Son, who is God. God sent God to secure our salvation. Who can be greater than God? The blood of God the Son was shed to purchase us. Then God sent the Holy Spirit, who is also God, to seal His promise of our full glory. God sent God to seal His people. Who can be greater than God? The Triune God works himself to make sure His choice comes to pass. He wants no failure. He sent the second and third persons of the Godhead to seal the deal. No failure indeed! God chose His people. Humans try to fight off God and flee from His presence in order to choose for themselves their meaning of life. Democracy defies what should be. Israel’s demand of a king defies what must be. Our method of choosing someone to be our authority defies what is natural. The people of Israel crafted the golden calf and called it their god. They didn’t want the true God because they could not control Him. But the golden calf they could control. Humans want the choice for themselves so they can control everything. We betray our very nature when we do it. We are created to depend on God. Our natural way of life is supposed to be obedience and submission to God. Jesus showed exactly what obedience and submission is. As God’s chosen people we are to follow Jesus’ example. In Christ we find the true meaning of life. When we opt to deny Jesus, we lose our meaning. God’s choice instills the greatest meaning in our life. Therefore, being the chosen carries the greatest privilege and at the same time the greatest responsibility as God’s own. We don’t choose Jesus. We can’t choose Jesus. There can only be Jesus chose us.

* The Business of Christian Education XVII

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