It has happened to most of us. The anticipation is rising. The line you are standing in is dwindling. Who will be next? Will I get picked at all? Ah, those moments on the playground before a recess game begins—a possible knock to the self-esteem if ever there was one!
I believe the way students choose each other for teammates has some lessons for us. It is not surprising that the biggest and fastest are often the first to be picked. If strength and size and speed are the advantage, why not go with it? And often some students are last on the line not so much for lack of ability to play the particular game, but for their lack of motivation or enthusiasm.
Isn’t it rather entertaining to watch as the choosing is going on? The most gifted athletes stand around casually, knowing they will be selected in the first few drafts. Others, aware of their lack of size or skill, stand on tip-toe, maybe waving enthusiastically. And yes, there are those few who are simply waiting to be chosen last and don’t really seem to care.
For centuries Christians have discussed and debated the doctrine of election. A frequent question is Cur alii, non alii? (Latin for, “Why are some saved and others not?”)
There are those who think or believe they have been chosen or “called” for eternal life much as members are chosen for a team.
Perhaps it’s the best or smartest that are chosen? However, the Holy Scriptures tell us clearly, “For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called” (1 Corinthians 1:26).
Or could it be that those chosen or “called” for heaven are at least the ones who are more compliant, better team players? Again God’s Word tells us, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
It’s starting to look pretty grim, isn’t it? Could there be in us any reason at all why Christ chose us to be on His team of believers?
Was I Worthy?
In our playground scenario, if a younger child gets to be captain, he often will choose friends—even to the detriment of the team. On the spiritual side, though, the holy fact is that Christ chose or “called” us even though He found nothing making us worthy of His team. Each of us could bring only sin, unbelief, and enmity.
Christ didn’t choose us because we were His friends; rather, His choosing made us His friends. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
The Scriptures clearly teach that the reason anyone is saved is purely through God’s divine grace: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
So what about each of us individually? We may wonder, “Am I one of God’s chosen?” God’s Word clearly assures us that we are saved sola gratia (by grace alone)—before we had anything to do with it! “…(God) chose us in (Christ) before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame…having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will” (Ephesians 1:4-5).
Another question often arises when the doctrine of election comes up. If it is God doing the choosing as to who gets to heaven, it must also be His choice as to who is lost and condemned to hell, right?
Wrong! As one pastor put it, that may be good logic, but it is bad theology. God offers free salvation to all. Why some receive this gift and gladly rejoice in their salvation won by Christ while others reject it is a mystery of God’s gospel.
We simply know this: it is God’s will that all people have the opportunity to come to Jesus as their Savior. “‘As I live’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live’” (Ezekiel 33:11).
On the one hand, all credit and glory is God’s when a soul is brought to faith in Jesus and thus into His kingdom.
On the other hand, when the gospel of the Savior has been rejected—and hell is the just punishment—the unbelieving soul itself must bear all responsibility and shame.
Dear reader, it is our pleasurable duty to spread the gospel message of free salvation to all. Therefore let us be ready to “preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season….” (2 Timothy 4:2).
And further, rejoice because you’ve been hand-picked and “your names are written in heaven”! (Luke 10:20)