Peter writes to Christians, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” 1Pe 2:9-10
Tuesday, I watched a replay of a Bible class from the church of Christ in Cumbernauld, Scotland, UK as Adam Barr lead a discussion on these verses. He contrasted what Peter describes with playground games. A game of dodgeball or red-rover is about to commence and two – often self-appointed – captains choose their teams from those waiting to play. Those chosen first are those who are more popular, more athletic, or gave their team an advantage in some way. Those less popular, less athletic, or with seemingly less to offer the team are last.
Contrast that with the text of Deuteronomy 7:6-8 which provides background knowledge for what Peter writes. Moses relays God’s message to Israel. “For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.”
God did not choose Israel because of what they had to offer. There were not even a people when He called Abram to be the father of that nation. They were still an enslaved tribal group when God called them out of Egypt, gave them a law and gave them a land. We know He chose them for the purpose of bringing about the Messiah (Christ) who would offer salvation from sin. He chose Israel, not for their power, influence, popularity, goodness, or value. He chose them for His purpose.
It is in Christ, that God chooses His own chosen and holy nation of royal priests. He chose me (and you) in Christ, not because we are the most popular, best looking, strongest, most athletic, or righteous individuals. He chose us in Christ, because of what He did in Christ, to set us aside (make us holy) for His purpose.
Consider how the Apostle Paul gives a very similar message, “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” Rom 5:6-11
When we had no value. When we were opposed to God. When we were His enemy. When we were weak. He chose us in Christ.
I had no value. I opposed God. I was no one. I was not special. I stood opposed to God by my actions. I was weak in sin. But the Hero, the Captain, the Christ, came and paid the penalty for me and offered me a place on His team. He chose me when I, in weakness, came to Him.
In the class I watched, Adam Barr made is poignant observation, “God’s closing us says more about Him, than it does about us.”