I made this image while listening to a popular worship song Who You Say I Am. I got to wondering as I finished it up, why am I chosen? Why me of all people. Did I do something special? Am I special? I am glad not to be abandoned to the death and decay destined for satan and his followers. But why me? Why you? Why us?
Why are we chosen by God? That question can be restated two different ways, because ‘why’ covers two different concepts:
- For what reason are we chosen?
- For what purpose are we chosen?
The difference may seem subtle, but the consequences are grand if you understand it right. A reason looks back at the cause of our being chosen—it is rooted in the past and reaches into the present. So we can even ask, “What caused us to be chosen?”
The Apostle John wrote: “Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”
1 John 4:7-8 NLT
The Reason and the Cause
God is love. That is the reason and that is the cause. Continue reading what the Apostle John wrote:
“God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.”
1 John 4:9-10 NLT
We honestly did nothing special nor were we special. God just loved us. God just loved the Israelites. He loved Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The old history books of the Bible confirm this:
““After the Lord your God has [conquered Caanan] for you, don’t say in your hearts, ‘The Lord has given us this land because we are such good people!’ No, it is because of the wickedness of the other nations that he is pushing them out of your way. It is not because you are so good or have such integrity that you are about to occupy their land. The Lord your God will drive these nations out ahead of you only because of their wickedness, and to fulfill the oath he swore to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. You must recognize that the Lord your God is not giving you this good land because you are good, for you are not—you are a stubborn people.”
Deuteronomy 9:4-6 NLT
The Apostle Paul writes: “When [Isaac] married Rebekah, she gave birth to twins. But before they were born, before they had done anything good or bad, she received a message from God. (This message shows that God chooses people according to his own purposes; he calls people, but not according to their good or bad works.) She was told, “Your older son will serve your younger son.” In the words of the Scriptures, “I loved Jacob, but I rejected Esau.””
Romans 9:10-13 NLT
Jacob was the direct ancestor of the nation of Israel, the chosen people of God. It’s from Israel the Church arose. All because of love we can’t ever understand.
““Look, the highest heavens and the earth and everything in it all belong to the Lord your God. Yet the Lord chose your ancestors as the objects of his love. And he chose you, their descendants, above all other nations, as is evident today. Therefore, change your hearts and stop being stubborn.”
Deuteronomy 10:14-16 NLT
The second question of purpose is important but largely ignored. I was going to write “ignored by the church,” but honestly I can only critique myself. So largely ignored by me.
Purpose is rooted in the present and reaches into the future, even into eternity. And what is this purpose? For what purpose was I loved, chosen, saved, justified, and all those other churchy words I can spout off?
Back to the Apostle John: “Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.”
1 John 4:11-12 NLT
I want you to notice something. It’s not about just you. It’s not just about me. It’s about everyone. The Church was not meant to be a club, a clique, a frat, a secret society—none of that. We have a grander purpose. Again, let’s go back to the Apostle John:
“If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers.”
1 John 4:20-21 NLT
Our purpose is to love God and one another. These two things cannot be separated from each other. They are both the greatest commandments:
“Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.””
Matthew 22:37-40 NLT
These commandments were nothing new in Jesus’ time. Nor should it be new in ours. These commands to love were part of Israel’s original purpose as a nation. And so was being a blessing to the rest of the world. First, look at the prophecy given to Abraham, the ancestor of Israel:
“Then the angel of the Lord called again to Abraham from heaven. “This is what the Lord says: Because you have obeyed me and have not withheld even your son, your only son, I swear by my own name that I will certainly bless you. I will multiply your descendants beyond number, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will conquer the cities of their enemies. And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed—all because you have obeyed me.””
Genesis 22:15-18 NLT
Then later, see how God spoke to the Israelites of Moses’ time:
“Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me. And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation.’ This is the message you must give to the people of Israel.””
Exodus 19:5-6 NLT
For what purpose will they be a holy nation? The answer is in the promise to Abraham: to bless the whole Earth.
I’m brought to another popular worship song, The Blessing. It’s based on the following verses, a blessing the priests gave over Israel:
“‘May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.’”
Numbers 6:24-26 NLT
The reason for giving this blessing is God’s love for Israel. The purpose is so Israel might love Him and other people. This is the same reason God wants to bless the whole Earth: he loves us all. And the purpose? We are meant to be the blessing for all the nations of the Earth. We, like His Son, are meant to be the promised Blessing.
And what was His Son’s command to us? Surely the Blessing himself knows how to bless the world:
“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.”
John 13:34 NLT
This is not just heart emojis and bro hugs. This is changing the world kind of love. Breaking down dictatorships and oppression kind of love. Ensuring justice for the orphan and the widow kind of love. Restoring God’s decaying Creation (Romans 8:22) and being the just rulers of it we were meant to be (Gen 1:28, 2:15). The kind of love that through faith moves mountains, through hope expects victory, and through unity as Christ’s body carries out His purpose.
Why? As always, it starts and ends in love.