Dear church,

Sometimes we rumble through life with an attitude of entitlement. We believe we deserve this good thing or that good thing. We consider who we are and what we’ve done and the skills we’ve acquired over time, and we think that, yes, we do have some positive things coming our way – or we should have some positive things coming our way. The word “deserve” may even enter our vocabulary.

And then at some point in our Christian development, we get a glimpse of the glory of the God who chooses.

God has a purpose. And before a person does anything good or bad with his or her life, we see that God is quite able and willing to do as he wants to with the people whom he creates. “The older will serve the younger,” God said, and “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

And Paul in Romans 9 gives us the picture of this God who chooses. We see Paul’s desperate longing for his own people – Israel – whom God most certainly chose but who were whittled down over the long centuries to a mere “remnant.”

This is a God whose choosing of people is irrevocable. And this is a God who does not have to put up with questions from his creation – “Will what is molded say to its molder, ‘Why have you made me like this?'”

It is enough to bother us for a while. And we will ruminate in our Christian development over how God could choose as he does. We cannot do things like this. We wouldn’t feel right doing things like this.

But at some point, I think, God wants us to stop and marvel not at his choosing – but at his mercy. Because at some point, every Christian must come to the realization that God turned and made a choice about that very Christian. Could I – even I, with everything I’ve done and all the skills I have acquired – could I, too, have been like Sodom or like Gomorrah?

Yes. The answer must be yes. Without God’s mercy, it most certainly would have been yes. There is only one difference, according to Romans 9, between the “vessels of wrath” and the “vessels of mercy.” That difference is the God who chooses.

And so at some point in our Christian development we ought to stop fussing and worrying over words like “election.” And we should stop looking so much at ourselves and who we are and what we’ve done and the skills we have acquired.

We should simply stop and ponder the glory of the God who creates and hardens and shows mercy. And we should hit our knees in gratitude that he showed mercy to us.

Chris

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