Choosing is very different from being chosen. When we choose from many options we are being empowered. We can say ‘yes’ to some things while saying ‘no’ to others. For example, at a church pot luck, I can choose what I wish to put onto my plate. I also choose what I do not wish to have on my plate. As I get older I realize that choosing to put a little of everything on my plate needs to be modified. I now make different choices because I have the power to do so…if I choose (once again) to exercise it.
Being chosen, however, is different. When applying for a job, I hope that I will be the chosen one from among many other candidates. When it comes to jobs that I do not wish to do, my hope is that someone else will be chosen.
In choosing, I am empowered to choose. In being chosen, I hope to have the option of deciding whether or not I wish to respond; but, sometimes, it means submitting to the one who has chosen me.
CHOSEN BY GOD
Reflecting back upon his being chosen by the Lord, the apostle Paul recognized that God had set him apart before he was even born (Galatians 1:1, 15-16, NIV). The Lord made it clear to Paul, however, that accepting God’s call would mean choosing a life of suffering (Acts 9:16).
This means that it is of value to consider Saul’s upbringing in Tarsus and Jerusalem from his earliest years (cf., Acts 26:4-5; 22:3) until he received his irresistible calling from the Lord on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-31). So strongly influenced by his studies in Judaism according to the Pharisaical tutelage of Gamaliel himself that re-orienting the “Christ in me” (Galatians 1:15-16) to the way of the cross would take three years in Arabia, ten years in the region of his hometown of Tarsus and a year under the wing of Barnabas to anchor itself in the destiny that God had planned for him (Galatians 1:17-2:2).
CHOOSING TO ACCEPT GOD’S CALL
We have all been chosen by God (Ephesians 1:3-14). The question for each of us is whether or not we choose to accept His calling. For those of us who do choose to follow His lead, Paul’s life helps us do as Jesus instructed us: to count the cost (Luke 14:25-35).