As we continue our series on identity, we look at the concept of ‘being chosen’. God has chosen us and called us to be in a relationship with him. It is easy in our culture to feel as though we must earn our place or acceptance whether that be in our friendship groups, our families or in our workplaces. As Christians, being chosen means that we can be secure in our own identities and be secure in who God says we are.
The chosen nation
In the Old Testament, the Israelites were known as God’s chosen people. At the very beginning God chooses Abram by making a covenant with him. A ‘covenant’ at the time was often an oath of allegiance between different political entities. In other words, it was a binding agreement that was often reciprocal between both parties. Likewise in Genesis 17 God promises Abram the land of Canaan (‘the promised land’) and descendants in return for his faithfulness and holiness. This covenant is reiterated to both Isaac and Jacob. Jacob’s sons go on to become the 12 tribes of Israel.
This covenant is remembered years later in Exodus 2 when God, through Moses, liberates the Israelites from slavery. What is so incredible about this covenant is that God upholds his promises consistently and faithfully throughout. For forty years in the wilderness, God provides for his chosen people with ‘manna’ literally food from heaven and continues to send kings and prophets to provide generously for the Israelites.
For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.
— Deuteronomy 7 —
Being chosen, as the Israelites were, means we can rejoice in being God’s most treasured possession but also be holy (meaning ‘set apart’) in the way we live our lives and treat those around us. The story of God’s chosen people also shows a God who is consistently faithful and unchanging in his commitment. Despite the Israelites’ rebellion, God doesn’t default on his promises, and we should live in that assurance, too.
A chosen saviour
As we approach the New Testament, we read in John 3:16 that God sent his one and only son to die for us. God sacrificed himself so that we could walk in freedom. At the moment of his death, we hear that the curtain in the temple was ripped in two. This is highly significant as this curtain separated the area in which Gods’ presence dwelled from the rest of the Jewish people. Normally only the high priest could enter there on specific festival days, but now God was everywhere and open to all. There is no partition between us and God because Jesus chose to take our sin so we could be in close relationship with God again.
This means if we choose to enter into a relationship with Jesus, we become one of his chosen people, too. As Paul says:
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus
— Galatians 3 —
Jesus’ death and resurrection reflects his non-discriminative life and ministry.
A chosen church
In the aftermath of Jesus’ death, instead of a decline in faith we get the beginning of the movement of the Christian Church. In Acts 2, we are told of a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit, known as Pentecost. All those gathered started to hear a violent wind and they began to speak to each other in tongues.
Quoting the prophet Joel, Peter explains the phenomenon and declares that ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’. This shifts the narrative away from a chosen people Israel that is saved, to anyone having access to salvation. In Acts 2, we get a glorious picture of what is to come in heaven where we are all chosen to share in God’s presence. Revelation 7:9 gives us a picture of this ‘After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.’ Because of Jesus, we have been chosen, whatever our background, and can all be part of the family of God.