(…continued) Someone might ask, “Is it fair of God to choose some and not others?” But who said anything about that? Who says God does not choose ‘others?’ The clear message of the Bible is that Jesus died for everyone, and Jesus authorized the disciples to go into all the world to tell everyone that he died for them all. He chose them all. And so we can say to anyone and everyone, “Jesus chose you; you are the one he was talking about when he said, ‘You are my friend; you did not choose me, I chose you.’” Jesus told us we can tell anyone we see that they are chosen.
What if someone then walks away and says, “What a bunch of nonsense that all is; I don’t believe a word of it,” Well, they can choose to do that, I guess, and what happens then is between them and God. But that doesn’t change the fact that God chose them for his love just like he chose everyone else. Why then do some believe and not others? How should I know? The Bible doesn’t tell us that, nor does it tell us to be concerned about that or try to figure it out. That is God’s business. That is for God to worry about. Jesus simply tells me to tell you that He died for you. As it says in Ephesians 1:4, “You were chosen in him, before the foundations of the world were laid.” In other words, long before you had any choice in the matter.
There is a comfort in God choosing us that way. The preacher says the Word, and you hear it, and it’s done. No wondering if you believe enough or are behaving well enough. “Faith comes by hearing,” says the Bible, and you have heard it. “I chose you,” said Jesus. Those words are for you. Well, one might ask, don’t I have to do anything? Of course, you do. Read the rest of the Bible and you will see that there are all sorts of things God wants you to do. And remember, this is God speaking. Are you going to turn him down, or are you going to pay attention? Again, what happens next is between you and God. But God starts the whole relationship with a promise. “I chose you, you are mine.”
It is like parents. They start with the commitment and the promise. They bring their baby home from the hospital and start to care for him or her. They do not start with the do’s and don’t’s. That all will come, but it will come in the context of the promise already given. The child doesn’t get to chose the parents; the child simply has to remain in the relationship already given. Then within that loving relationship, between parents and children, and between God and all of us, things can happen. People can learn and grow and mature, becoming the kind of people God wants them to be, in a process that begins now, and is brought to completion only in the life to come. Out of gratitude to God for choosing us, we certainly ought to want to live good and faithful lives. In the next two meditations I will continue to illustrate how this works. (continued…)
1 John 4:19 — We love because he first loved us.
Ephesians 1:3-4 — 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.
John 15:15-17 — (Jesus said), “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit— fruit that will last— and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.”
SOFTLY AND TENDERLY, Will L. Thompson, 1880
Sung by Alan Jackson at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VW8Q9oPIiEM
Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling,
Calling for you and for me;
See, on the portals He’s waiting and watching,
Watching for you and for me.
Come home, come home,
You who are weary, come home;
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
Calling, O sinner, come home!
Why should we tarry when Jesus is pleading,
Pleading for you and for me?
Why should we linger and heed not His mercies,
Mercies for you and for me? Refrain
Time is now fleeting, the moments are passing,
Passing from you and from me;
Shadows are gathering, deathbeds are coming,
Coming for you and for me. Refrain
O for the wonderful love He has promised,
Promised for you and for me!
Though we have sinned, He has mercy and pardon,
Pardon for you and for me. Refrain