Ephesians 1:11-14, Psalm 33:1-6, 12, Luke 12:1-9
Do you remember back when you were at school and teams had to be chosen for whatever sport was being played. For many of us, we watched as the great and the good sporty types were chosen week in and week out. That was fine, but it got more painful as the selection process continued. Nobody wanted to be last. There was a certain amount of humiliation that went with the choices made – those who had been picked made suggestions in stage whispers regarding the attributes of those left.
But then one day, you would get chosen as team captain. What would you do? Would you be different, choosing the weakest first or would you be just like every other captain and choose the best for yourself?
Fortunately, for us in God’s realm, things are totally different. God does not choose us based on our strengths, talents, beauty or intelligence. Unlike my sports example, God already know everything about each one of us. As Oswald Chambers puts it “He knows which gutters we crawl in”. God is not going to choose us for his team and then when we sin, slap his forehead and exclaim “Oh my, I didn’t see that coming I never knew she was like that. She’s no use to me now!”. As we see in our Ephesians reading today, God chose us for HIS own purpose. He has a plan and somehow he can use us to fulfil that magnificent plan. And if that were not enough, we get a say in whether we want to be chosen. This is one of those great mysteries that we are chosen, but we have free will to choose. We can put a lot of thought into trying to unravel that, or accept that in Jesus, both choosing and being chosen somehow work together.
But there is even more, as the first chapter of Ephesians tells us: not only are we chosen, we are also adopted into God’s family and then we will also share in God’s inheritance. We know and experience this inheritance through the Holy Spirit in our lives.
It all sounds so easy doesn’t it? We’ve been chosen by God. We are on the winning team. What could possibly go wrong?
But it’s not all plain sailing. How often do we look at the other team? We watch how our non-Christian friends and family live. They seem to be having more fun, no constraints, no discipline. It is so easy to secretly join them – after all what’s a little dabble going to hurt? Nobody will know.
But then we come to our Gospel reading. Speaking about the morally upright Pharisees, Jesus says: “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 3 What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.
If we apply this to ourselves, it can send shivers of fear down our spines. After all who among us would like all our thoughts and deeds played out on a large cinema screen for all to see?
I think this verse serves as a great sobering reminder to us, when we get complacent about our standing with God. Yes, we are saved. Yes, God loves us. Yes, He absolutely forgives us our sins and casts them into the deepest ocean never to be seen again. But we still have to choose. We have to choose to stay on His Team. We do this by aligning our thoughts, words and deeds to the way Jesus shows us to live. Ultimately, Jesus declares: “I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God. 9 But whoever disowns me before others will be disowned before the angels of God.”
When we understand and accept the amazing gift of being chosen by God, we will find ourselves transformed and filled with wonder and joy at all God has done for us. We will find ourselves joining with the psalmists in praising God. He is indeed righteous and all his ways are just.
Prayer: Lord God, thank you for choosing me. I confess that some days I think I have earned a place on your team and congratulate myself. But other days, I come back to your Word and I realise that it is only by your grace that I have been chosen. Lord Jesus, would you please keep me reminded that it is all about you. I want to know in my innermost heart that there is nothing I can do to make you love me more nor anything that I could do to make you love me less. Please guide me through this week. Help we to choose your team every day. Amen.