I don’t know about you, but I always dreaded the process of picking teams on the playground. I was neither a star athlete nor the most popular kid on the playground, and so I was never chosen to be one of the team captains who got to do the choosing. Not only was I neither the most popular nor the star athlete, but I was never really even a good athlete. And so, not only was I not one of the ones choosing the teams, I usually was never chosen for a team in the first couple of picks.
You know that point in the choosing of the teams where the captains recognize they are no longer choosing assets to the team, but liabilities? It was usually right after the captains made that recognition that I would be picked. It was that point in which the captains are now trying to pick the players who will do the least amount of harm to their teams.
I fear that sometimes we view ourselves that way before God. We hear that God has chosen us, but we are sure we were one of the last to be chosen. We look at the great saints of the church, the Mother Teresa’s, the Billy Graham’s, the people with all the charisma and confidence and spiritual gifts we see lacking in ourselves, and it is obvious why God has chosen them. But us? A lot of us take a perverse kind of comfort in the verses talking about how God has chosen everyone for salvation, because we’re convinced we only get in because the invitation has gone out to everyone.
If that is you. If you are ever tempted to think God loves you because he has to love you, then let me just point you to Ephesians 1:3-4, printed above. Paul declares God has chosen you, not because you were the last kid on the playground and he got stuck with you on his team, God chose you before you even got onto the playground. God chose you before you even got out of bed to get ready for school to sit in the classroom so that you could go out on the playground to choose teams.
Paul declares: God chose you before the creation of the world! God chose to love you and provide a way for you to know a peace and joy that surpasses all understanding…
before you committed even one of those thousands of sins,
before any of the bad financial decisions you have made,
before any of the rotten relationships you have gotten yourself into,
before you became a “disappointment” to any parent, boss, child, or spouse.
before you were even a gleam in your mother’s eye…
God Chose You.
One of my favorite theologians, just before he died, wrote:
My message, unchanged for more than fifty years, is this: God loves you unconditionally, as you are and not as you should be, because nobody is as they should be. It is the message of grace. If asked whether I am finally letting God love me, just as I am, I would answer, 'No, but I'm trying.’ (All is Grace, Brennan Manning)
But here is something vitally important to recognize when we talk about being chosen by God. When God chooses us, he chooses us “for” something. When we accept the fact that God has chosen us in Christ before the creation of the world, it means that we have been invited to become part of the mission of God to this world. What does it mean, on a daily basis, to live out this reality of our identity in Christ: we are chosen?
So here’s the Good News - we have all been chosen by God. We believe in the plain meaning of John 3:16: God gave his Son that whosoever believes in him will have eternal life. No matter what sins you have committed, no matter what mistakes you have made, no matter who looks down on you as a “disappointment,” God chooses you. He chose you before you made any of those sins and mistakes, and he chooses you now in spite of them.
But here’s the catch. The Team Captain has chosen you, but you have to accept his invitation to become part of the team. You need to take the step out of the crowd, and accept the invitation to become part of God’s Team (Kingdom) here on earth. Have you accepted the fact that God loves YOU deeply and has chosen YOU to be part of a story much bigger than just your life? You will never effectively share with others that God loves them, until you truly believe God loves You.
Spend some time in prayer, right now, asking God to reveal to you, in a new and fresh way, the depths of his love for you!