Recently I have been reflecting on how people make the choice to become Christ-followers. What I have remembered through my study is that we are chosen before we choose.
I am not a staunch Calvinist by any means. I believe that all men and women are free to choose their respective paths in life, and that salvation by grace is accessible to all–to “whosoever believes.” But I recognize and accept what Jesus and his apostles said concerning choosing and being chosen. The word of God overrules all else for me. The first passage that comes to mind is this exhortation Jesus gave to his disciples:
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you (John 15:16).
Jesus knew the hearts of all people he dealt with in person, and he knows our hearts as well. He knows whether we are going to follow him and put our trust in him. He knows when and he knows how to reach us. Sometimes we observe him orchestrating circumstances, decisions, and personal connections to draw souls to him. Jesus confidently declared, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me…” (Jn 6:37), and, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (Jn 6:44). His mission was to declare the will of the Father and bring his kingdom to the earth. The Father oversees and continues to designate who will join Jesus in this assignment.
The Apostle Paul understood that the destiny and purpose of God’s people lie squarely in His hands. Paul saw the saints of God as “His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph: 2:10). Even more explicitly, he wrote, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience…”(Col 3:12).
Peter, one of Jesus’ closest followers, described members of Christ’s body as “chosen by God and precious” (2:4). Collectively, we are “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people” (2:9). These Scriptures clearly indicate that the Father has the privilege of choosing us first.
Then it is our turn to respond and choose him!
Those who had been baptized by John the Baptist were quick to recognize Jesus as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (Jn 1:29). Brothers Peter and Andrew, and James and John, abruptly left their homes and jobs as fishermen with only the simple invitation from Jesus, “Follow me.” They had no way of knowing where the journey would lead, but they knew they had been chosen to follow, so they followed!
God takes the initiative. Always. The New Testament reveals that he calls, “Follow me,” to many kinds of people—sinners and godly persons, pagans, priests, secularists, Jews, scholars, businessmen, paupers, princes, soldiers, widows, and orphans. He invites the sick, the lame, and those tormented by the Devil. Some say yes to his call, and sadly, many say no.
I’m very grateful that in spite of an upbringing, education, and cultural environment that caused many in my generation to turn away from Christian faith, my heart persisted in responding to Christ’s invitation.
My family and friends couldn’t make sense of what was happening to me. I had trouble explaining it. I just knew that he had whispered my name. He had chosen to reveal himself to me, and nothing would ever be the same. And I am not ashamed of my choice.
Some of you know exactly what I’m talking about, because you also made a conscious choice, like Joshua:
“…if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:14-15).
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.