Do You Know You Are Chosen?

I like quotations. I love to read the thoughtful t-shirt that makes me think or laugh as it catches a particular thought or time in life. We probably have all seen the quote – Carpe Diem – seize the day! I admit to laughing when I see its companion, Carpe ranam – seize the frog! The other day I read a t-shirt that said, “This diem isn’t going to carpe itself.” That one made me pause for a minute. Another poster that made me pause is the one of the kitty who is hanging by his tiny paws that says, “Hang in there.” I admit that I have sent that picture to a friend or two to encourage them during a mildly difficult time.

Have you seen this quotation: “Those that cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it”?  It is a statement that bears some scrutiny, especially in an age like ours where everything older than five years is considered out of date, or is thrown away, or is thought to be irrelevant. We live in a disposable society. Our phones, computers, and sometimes even our history are quickly discarded. Our great leaders knew that such disposable thinking leads to repetitive living. They knew that if we do not learn from what has gone before, it will inevitably come back to surprise and hurt us again. Just like the child who is burned on the stove or the young person who dates someone who is obnoxious, if we do not learn from the past we will do it again until we do learn.

It seems that our fathers in the faith felt the same way. Every single one of them unapologetically reminded their people where they came from. They did not do it for guilt’s sake. They weren’t trying to make those Christians they loved feel guilty or simply relive the past. No, they did it for glory’s sake. Our past isn’t primarily about us. Like our present and our future, our past is first and foremost about our Savior. It is about who He is and what He was done for us.

Like our present and our future, our past is first and foremost about our Savior. 

It is here that Peter begins. Everyone begins somewhere. We all have a past. That past usually makes us see ourselves a certain way. If you come from a city, that city and its culture is how you see yourself. If you come from the country, rural life and all of its positives and negatives stay with you. If you see your background as positive, you probably have pride in it. If you hate where you came from, then you might feel shame or at least disappointment when you have to bring it up. For Peter’s readers the word that best describes their condition is aliens. They are transplants with all the feelings separation and alienation that entails. They aren’t home. They aren’t a part of the system. They are seen as interlopers or newcomers by their neighbors. They miss home. They long for connection. They never feel like they quite fit in.

To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood.

1 Peter 1:1b-2

That is their past. Then Peter uses another word to describe them. He calls them chosen. Not alone. Not without a country. Not without a purpose or a people. They are chosen. They aren’t just scattered about for no purpose. They have a very definite purpose. This changes everything. It isn’t circumstance or accident which marks their life. They aren’t drifting without country or plan. They are chosen. No matter how they got there, they have a Father who knew beforehand that they would be there. Not only that, but they can rest in the knowledge the He knows and He has specifically worked in their lives. They are not adrift. There is a plan!

Plans mean purpose. Scattered is a word that indicates a rather haphazard existence. The phrase, “chosen according to the foreknowledge of God,” is a much different picture. Peter then continues by declaring that they have been chosen, “by the sanctifying work of the Spirit to obey Jesus Christ.” So, it isn’t just some vague plan that cannot be discerned or discovered. It is a specific plan. It is a person to follow. It is a life to embrace. God has given Christians a simple and clear purpose. They are not really aliens who are scattered. They are chosen ones who have a home and a King to follow. That home is Heaven. The King is Jesus.

Think about this part of grace for a minute. I know how unchosen many people feel. I know that both the young among us and the older among us ask the question, “Is there any purpose in my life?” Although we usually think about salvation as a Heaven versus Hell sort of decision, Peter reminds us hear that it is actually much more than that. The gift of God in salvation does not just change our destination. It changes who we are. It changes whose we are. It gives us purpose. We are now a part of something greater. It is God’s grace that does this in us. We have come to know that chasing after the world does not satisfy. We have discovered the reality that living outside of the truth of God hurts us. So, we prayed to God for healing and transformation. We asked Him to save us from the wages of sin. Yet, without this other part of grace we can feel adrift. Without the plan and purpose of grace we feel that we don’t really have a place in this world. We lack meaning. 

Our science friends have taught us that nature abhors a vacuum. What does that mean? It means that without understanding the great gift of purpose that grace gives, we will start to refill our life with the stuff that we have been set free from. Paul asks the church in Galatia this question: “But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?” (Galatians 4:9) They struggled with this temptation. They were saved from both sin and legalism. Because of our great desire to not be aliens or strangers they were tempted to go back to following the world’s rules. It gave them a sense of belonging. It gives us a sense of belonging too. Paul told them what Peter told his readers: don’t do it! We have a purpose. God has called us. He has given us a person to follow. His name is Jesus.

The gift of God in salvation does not just change our destination. It changes who we are. It changes whose we are. It gives us purpose. We are now a part of something greater.

Something to think about,

Pastor John

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