Friday, February 1, 2013

God Chose

 "For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, 'Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.'" 
1 Corinthians 1:26-31

The church in Corinth is an illustration of God’s unconditional election.  The saints in Corinth were not wise, powerful, or noble, but God chose them as his own in spite of who they were in this world.  The text emphasizes God’s unconditional choice of them by the repetition of the phrase, “God chose,” in verses 27 and 28.  Wisdom, power, and nobility were the immaterial idols of the Gentile world.  The Greeks wanted to be wise; so they studied philosophy.  They wanted to be powerful; so they studied politics.  They wanted to be noble; so they pursued riches.  The unbelieving world seeks significance in the things of this world, and when it obtains them, it boasts.  “Look at how wise I am!  Look at how powerful I have become!  Look at how noble I am!” 
But God shows us the unconditional character of his love in that he has not chosen the wise, the powerful, and the noble.  God’s choice of people is not like the world.  God does not choose people because of who they are, but God chooses people in spite of who they are.  God stands to gain nothing by his selection of the world’s losers.  It is only by his grace that they become recipients of his salvation!  We are told in this passage about God’s reason for making his election unconditional: “…so that no human being might boast in the presence of God” (v. 29).  In verse 31, he quotes Jeremiah, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”  Unconditional election is another window into salvation by God’s grace alone.  Since we are saved by grace, not by works, we have no reason to boast in our efforts. “For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).  One reason why people seek significance in the world’s goods (wisdom, power, and nobility) is because they desire the world’s praise.  We desire others to praise us for what we have accomplished.  We want to boast in the presence of others that we have made something great of ourselves.  But God here reminds us that he did not set his love on us because of who we are in this life.  He set his love on us so that we might see that we are favored unconditionally and undeservingly. 
We need to remind ourselves daily of our unconditional election and effectual calling.  “For consider your calling, brothers” (v. 26).  We need to remember that God effectively summoned us into his presence because he loved us in spite of ourselves.  So why are we seeking greater significance by working for something in this world?  We may be working to achieve many things in this life because we want to boast in what we have accomplished.  We want to save ourselves from a life of worldly insignificance.  We want to be chosen in this life because of our accomplishments in school or work or community or home.  Yet God comes to us and says that he is not concerned with such things.  This should change our perspective about what is really important in life and about who is truly significant.  The world’s nobodies are God’s somebodies.  God sees us from the vantage point of grace, not human achievement.  He receives praise for who we are in Christ, not who we are in ourselves.  Believer, let these words shape your understanding of your identity: “God chose me.”  We may want to know why.  What did I do?  But the answer is always surprising: nothing.       

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