1 Peter 1 tells the Christian that they are chosen. They are plucked from the meaningless angst of existence and assigned a purpose. It is not necessary to delve into the fine points of Calvinism versus Arminianism. It is enough to think about a life without meaning against a life that has purpose. God has a divine story to tell and there are those who want to play the role of villain, there are those who trundle along as though God were silent, and then God chooses some to be agents and workers in his design.
The Christian needs to see that they were not saved from hell for heaven. That is, they were not saved for their own ends that they might have a room in a celestial hotel when they die. God is redeeming the earth in time and foreshadows the future shalom (peace and harmony), by repurposing people who would otherwise be refuse. Refuse people are those who lack the divinely given capacity to serve in ways humans were designed to serve. This is why hell is an incinerator. Gehenna, the Valley of the Sons of Hinnom, is the picture of hell in the New Testament. It is the place where idols were once served, and so the devout designated it the city rubbish tip, or garbage dump. Those who want to escape the natural results of estrangement from God are swept up by God into a life of purpose. We are vessels that carry living water. Once we were cracked and broken and now we have been destroyed and recast – reborn. This life ceases to be random and meaningless. We can not be existential journeymen who are making sense of the absurdity of life in the face of the certainty of death. We are builders of a Kingdom; we are soldiers in an army; we are servants of the King. All the multiple facets of reality point to him and bring him glory. We have been chosen to be transformed for his glory. Chosen from an orphanage, we lay in the lap of Abba, Father once more accepted, safe, and at home.
Having read 1 Peter, I want to explore my identity. I want you to define who I am. The lies I tell myself lead me to empty self-loathing. The truth that you tell me leads to victorious, righteous living. I want to be holy because you have chosen me and set me apart.
- 1 Peter 1 tells sojourners and exiles that they are chosen. How does that challenge their self-image?
- How would a Jewish mind interpret the word ‘chosen’?
- What does it mean to not be chosen? Would those who are not chosen be angry with God?
- Why would God choose you?
- How does the image of adoption in the New Testament enrich the idea of ‘chosen’?
When sojourners and exiles realize that they have been chosen by God, it challenges them to see beyond their present circumstances and dwell in the love and peace given as His children. A Jewish mind would most likely interpret the word ‘chosen’ the way that Israel was chosen by God, which is set apart from the rest of the world as the ones that God will bless. I think its easy for people to be mad at God – but I think that there is no reason to ever be mad at God. If God saved no one, He would not cease to be all-loving, all-powerful, and holy. If He saved one person, He would still be the same. God is not obligated to save any of us – we have condemned ourselves by our wickedness. Our sin is like an iceberg in the ocean. We only see so little of it, which makes us think that there is not much. However, we cannot see how deep our sin actually is, and only by diving into God (in this illustration, the water/ocean), can we begin to see more of our depravity. There is no reason within myself that God would chose me. It has to be simply because He wants me, even when I was His enemy – completely rebellious and rejecting. But now that I know Him, because He has chosen me, my heart is warmed with delight in my adoption as His daughter. I still struggle with realizing that this is my identity, but where I am now is such a satisfying place. I never want to go back to how it once was.
To be chosen…this is both an identity marker as a believer and comes naturally with a question: chosen out of what for what? To understand that one is chosen necessitates answering these questions, answers which further define and give purpose to the chosen. The Jew would probably see chosen as meaning set apart into special relationship with God because that is largely what it meant for them to be God’s chosen people. To not be chosen is to be outside of that relationship and the benefits therein. Many who are not chosen are angry with God, but it is not because they are not chosen–they are simply enemies of God who reject Him and the truth, exchanging it for a idolatry. God has chosen me because He wanted to demonstrate His love. Because I know who I was and am (and because of what the Bible says) I know God did not pick me because I was a great guy, had it together, etc. A child does not choose to be adopted. He can have reservations of his adoption or readily accept it with joy, but he is not in the driver seat. What kind of relationship are we chosen into? One in which we are now God’s children…what an undeserved blessing.
You that part in the movie when the main characters run super close to getting themselves killed and afterward they just look at each other, speechless and wide-eyed? I have thought a bit lately about how that type of scene relates to the Christian life. In a far greater way we were “that” close to eternal destruction. We’ve been rescued from a close-at-hand darkness that’s chilling. We had the very wrath of God Almighty hanging over our heads and His own Law condemned us. He rightly pronounced us guilty and we hung our heads. But then His Son appeared and we watched as His glorious, righteous person willfully took on the human shell, veiling His awesome glory, so that we would not die and understand Him to be one of us, as He indeed was, though unparalleled in uniqueness. Yet we did perceive His glory, graciously dimmed as it was for our eyes and we received the perfect revelation of the perfect Son of God, His death- our death, His life- our life. And we look at each other- wide eyed, and speechless, forever grateful. So yes we’re chosen of God, but at the expense of His Son, for glory of His Son, and just because God chose us before He even created the world, doesn’t negate how profoundly lost we were and how deserving we were of God’s righteous judgment. It is startling that He chose me for Himself. I don’t know what to say.