“You did not choose me, but I chose you…”
Thursday, 13 May 2021
If you have ever won a prize, been selected to represented your company, country or community, or indeed have been given an important job for which you knew there was considerable competition, you will know that the feeling is hard to describe.
Excitement. Relief. Joy. Pride (good pride in the sense of achievement, not the arrogance of entitlement). Initially even disbelief: how did I get it? Do I deserve it? Shortly after that, new, less cheerful feelings perhaps emerge. Feelings of fear and apprehension at what may be expected. Will I live up to the confidence they have shown in me? Do I have ‘the right stuff’?
So it must have been an amazing feeling when the disciples heard Jesus telling them that he chose them. In the first century, people – then as now – tended to join religious movements (or they were simply part of them by accidents like birth). Many of the disciples probably imagined that they had joined Jesus. But in telling them that in fact he chose them, Jesus was making an important theological point.
We do not choose God like we chose a football team to support, let alone choose a leather jacket over tweed. Even when the decision to follow God is one we freely make, as opposed to simply coasting along in the religious tradition into which we were accidentally born, we should remember that before all that, God chose us.
God reached out to us in love, in an invitation, to be a disciple.
Why? Because it is God’s nature to reach out in love. Does that change how we see God?