Thursday, July 30, 2015

Chosen by God: Living as one who is holy and loved

God chose you. What does that mean? How should we respond?

A good friend of mine takes care of the décor of our church. She wanted to buy a picture to hang in our entrance; however, when she went back to the website on which it was for sale, the artwork was no longer available. I told her, “No problem. I can make that.” Now that VBS is over for the summer, this became my new project. We’ll print it out on poster-sized paper and adhere it to palette wood. I haven’t actually done that part yet but this will give you an idea of the look…

I’ve looked at this passage a lot this week as I worked on the layout and design. It’s not surprising but there’s a lot of good stuff in it for us.

God Chose You

“Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved…” (Colossians 3:12).

He created the universe. He gave up the glory of heaven to live among us. He resurrected Himself from the dead. He promised to return in all power and authority to establish a world-wide kingdom of peace. No one else can make any of those claims. They all testify to His power, authority, glory, honor, and just plain old awesomeness.

He’s the One who chose you. He scanned eternity, saw your place in it, and said, “I choose her. She’s one of Mine. I’ll give My life to make her holy and set her apart unto Myself. I can’t help but do so – I love her.”

A Different Lifestyle

I think that kind of love and devotion from One so worthy warrants a response on our part. Sure, we can accept the love and blessing God bestows on us without allowing a transformation within ourselves. We can even choose to reject the love He offers – many do, sadly. However, when I take a moment to consider who God is and His desire to choose me, I can’t help but think my life should look different in response.

Heartfelt Compassion
Mercy, tenderness, and affection should well up deep within us and overflow to the surrounding hurting world. We can’t step over the homeless person asleep on the street. We can’t remain indifferent to the slaughter of the unborn and the subsequent trafficking of their organs. We can’t ignore the struggles of those persecuted for believing the same message of hope in which we believe.

Ours should be a life lived with moral integrity as we focus on the good. Not only should an effort to do what’s good mark our lives, but we should also extend that effort to others. We must do what’s right in a given situation.

The world seeks to promote itself; the follower of Jesus seeks to promote Him. We recognize how awesome He is – I talked about that a little at the beginning of this article. That recognition helps us understand our lower place in the whole scheme of things. Life is no longer all about our power, our glory, or our honor. We now understand it’s all about Him.

Life’s hard; the world is harsh. Into that unforgiving environment, God gently brought a message of grace. He doesn’t beat us up with His Word. He doesn’t torture us until we convert. He comes to us lovingly, quietly, and stirs in us a desire to extend that gentleness to a world already beaten and bruised by their own behaviors.

Our tendency is to get angry when things don’t go our way. We fly off the handle when people make us mad. But you know what? Those things are always going to happen. Living as one chosen by God means we persevere through those times with a constancy and endurance not seen in those of the world.

Accepting One Another
Did you know that if you want to be a Rockette you have to be a certain height, certain weight, and have a certain leg length? They want all of the dancers to be exactly the same size. God doesn’t choose people who are all exactly the same, however. We come with different backgrounds, personalities, experiences, dreams, and every other descriptor. Sometimes our differences make it hard but God chose others just as He chose us. Our response should be to accept one another – even the different ones.

Forgive One Another
Yeah, He said it. It’s there – and it’s hard. We need to forgive each other. Think about how much God has forgiven in your life. He has forgiven just as much in the lives of His other chosen followers. It’d be pretty messed up of us if we can’t forgive them too. After all, their offense before sinless God is much greater than any offense they’ve made against us. And yet, He’s forgiven all of it.

God’s love is unfathomable. I’m not even going to try to describe it because words can’t describe it. It’s enough that He couldn’t stand an eternity without you. He looked down from glory into our pit of sin where the nastiness of death bound us and suffocated us and said, “I’ll take her place. I’ll go into the pit so she might join Me here.” That’s love. Part of our response is to make every effort to love that way in return. We’ll never fully accomplish it but we can sure spend a lifetime trying.

Our natural tendency is to war against God; our nature is to rebel and fight His perfect plan. On our own, we’d never live in peace with Him. On the flip side, He never would have granted us peace either except for the sacrifice of the Prince of Peace, Jesus. I don’t think it’s too much to ask, then, that we also live in peace with one another.

Be Thankful
A little gratitude goes a long way. Remember where we started this article – the glorious, eternal, powerful God of all chose you to spend eternity with Him. Then He endured the greatest of torments to make it happen. Take a moment to respond with a “thank you.”

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