1 Peter 2:9-12 – Chosen by God

ChosenByGod

You are chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, people who belong to God. You were chosen to tell about the excellent qualities of God, who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not God’s people, but now you are. Once you were not shown mercy, but now you have been shown mercy.

Dear friends, since you are foreigners and temporary residents in the world, I’m encouraging you to keep away from the desires of your corrupt nature. These desires constantly attack you. Live decent lives among unbelievers. Then, although they ridicule you as if you were doing wrong while they are watching you do good things, they will praise God on the day he comes to help you. (GW)

The Apostle Peter wrote his letter to a group of believers struggling in the middle of suffering. He sought to encourage them with who they are in Christ, as well as exhort them to not go back to old ways of dealing with hard circumstances. And this is darned good instruction for us, as well, when we feel beat down in tough situations:

Remember who you are and to whom you belong; and, let that new identity, not the old one, determine how you will respond and what choices you will make when the going gets rough.

We are chosen people (Greek ἐκλεκτόν which is literally “elected”). We have royal blood. We belong to God – called by him and set apart for a life of proclaiming his great mercy. Peter simply encouraged and exhorted with the very same mercy he himself had been shown. Peter was chosen by Jesus despite his credentials. He had no formal training and was impulsive, random, headstrong, and likely had some first-century version of adult attention deficit disorder. Yet, Jesus elected him because God’s choice always nullifies human pride and ingenuity.

God chooses people for deliverance from sin, chooses to bestow royalty upon them, and chooses them as his own to be his ambassadors to the world. God’s choice of us is not based on our ability, but on God’s call and the Spirit’s presence and power working in and through us so that we might not boast in anything but the cross.

These chosen people Peter addressed were not full citizens. They were considered as foreigners by the Roman Empire in which they lived. The believers had limited rights in a Roman society which valued wealth, power, status, prestige, and pedigree. The Christians, along with Peter, had none of this privilege. Peter was letting them know that they have a status as God’s chosen people, distinct from the values of their surrounding culture.

The Christians were equipped for royal greatness through being set apart for Christ, with the Spirit of God to help make them holy in an unholy society.

It is from this firm standing and status of belonging to God and having their identity in Jesus Christ that the struggling believers could, then, firmly resist turning to the dark side. A strong sense of place and purpose is what helps us all to live decent lives, even when those who misunderstand and mistreat seem to be having the day over us. More than once in my own life I have been ridiculed and mocked only years later to have those very same persons say, “I noticed how you responded and watched how you handled situations and it made a deep impression on me.” Indeed, they went from parody to praise because of the mercy of God.

We are encouraged by Peter to take the long view of our circumstances. The Scriptures invite us to a more expansive view of our lives, a bigger picture of those around us, and a broader perspective of our society as a royal priesthood of believers. Any old fool can criticize others from afar, play armchair quarterback about things they know nothing about, and expect everyone else to bend to their way of thinking. It is, however, the wise person, instructed through deep suffering, who chooses to walk in the way of mercy, day after day, week after week, year after year, even though the pain is persistent and relentless. Such persons belong to God and have no need to rely on unmerciful and corrupt practices to live a full and satisfying life.

Sovereign God, thank you that you accept us as we are: vulnerable, flawed and in need of love. Feed us and fill us with the certainty of your love, the power of your Spirit, and the joy of your Kingdom as we open ourselves to your choice and your call upon us. Because you have chosen us, we declare your glory to the world. We no longer walk in the uncertainty of the darkness but in the certainty of your glorious light through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Click Who You Say I Am by Hillsong Worship as together we seek to live in the light of our glorious identity.

Chosen by God

 
 
We are blessed people because God is active in the world he has made.  Before I gave my life to Christ, I thought God was some old grandpa sitting in heaven twiddling his thumbs and watching reruns of Little House on the Prairie.  But the truth is that God is an Eternal Being and involved in his creation.  God has a vision and a clear picture of what he wants the end of all his activity on his earth to result in, and it isn’t just to see Nellie Olsen get her come-uppance.  God is busy reconciling people back to himself, and to each other; and, restoring the entire world back under the lordship of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:9-10).  So, in order to accomplish this, God has initiated and given us, the church, the spiritual blessing of “election.”
 
            Even before the creation of the world, God had the conclusion to his story in mind and began making divine decisions about how to have the result he desired.  This, by the way, is how we are to approach ministry in the church.  That is, we begin with an end in mind of what we want to accomplish; then, we gather the people and begin making the decisions we need to make in order to see that end purpose realized.  Too often, churches begin with a group of people and wonder about what they should do – that is completely backwards from how God operates. 
  
            In eternity past, in love, God predestined us to be adopted as his children (Ephesians 1:5).  Believers are so loved by God that we became special to him before we were ever born!  Election means that God has a purpose for us.  On our human level of operation, we elect political candidates not for the end purpose of merely winning an office, but so that those elected officials may serve the common good and put their energies into accomplishing some noble cause.  So it is with God.  We were not elected by God simply to go to heaven when we die, and sit on some celestial couch eating popcorn with Jesus, and maybe Michael Landon.  The reason we were chosen by God was so that we would be holy and blameless (Ephesians 1:4), and might be for the praise of God’s glory (Ephesians 1:6, 12).  In other words, we are not in some sort of holding pattern here on earth simply doing whatever we want with our time while we wait to die.  No, we are to be busy accomplishing God’s purposes in election. 
 
We are receiving an inheritance from God.  It will be put into effect when God’s timing and purpose is accomplished:  to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, Jesus Christ.  The chosen and redeemed of God will one day die; after death they will go to be with Christ; but that is not yet the end.  It is not yet the end because the entire world still needs redemption.  This is why the writer to the Hebrews could say about the great heroes of the faith:  “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.  God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect” (Hebrews 11:39-40).
 
            In other words, there is not just life after death; there is, as New Testament scholar N.T. Wright puts it, “life after life-after-death.”  All those people of faith, including our friends and relatives who have gone before us to be with Jesus, are waiting.  They, along with us, have not yet received all the promised blessings of our inheritance.  And what we are waiting for is the reconciliation and restoration of all things, a new heaven and a new earth in which we will all together be sons and daughters in the kingdom of God with Jesus as King over us.  The possession of the Holy Spirit is the guarantee that this is the case, and it will happen (Ephesians 1:12-13). 
 

 

            Let us, then, live into the election we have received by engaging in ministry that is concerned for the restoration of all things.  That is a worthy resolution no matter what time of year it is.