Do I Choose Or Am I Chosen?

 

Every day, you and I are confronted by choices.  We choose the foods that we will eat, the clothing that we will wear, the people we will call, the way we will fill our free time, the manner in which we will invest our money, and the causes that we will support.  Sometimes, these choices are easy and mundane.  At other times, they can be agonizing.  Choices area part of life, but they are not always easy.

In John 6, the disciples are confronted with a very difficult choice.  The crowds that had swarmed Jesus after viewing his miracles were melting away.  They had been disturbed by the words Jesus used to describe himself (you must eat my flesh and drink my blood), as well as by Jesus’ mission.  They wanted a strong Messiah, a King that would protect them and provide for them.  Instead, Jesus talked about the need to abide with him, eat his flesh, and suffer along with him.  These were not words that the crowds wanted to hear, and so they abandoned Jesus.    

After the crowds were gone, Jesus turns to the disciples and asks them, “Will you too leave me or will you choose life?”  Imagine how difficult that choice must have been.  It is clear from their responses that the disciples did not fully understand what Jesus meant by some of these teachings.  At the same time, they had abandoned everything to follow Jesus, and they were still unsure where Jesus was really leading them. Nevertheless, Peter spoke up and said, “Whom else can we follow, you have the words of eternal life.”   The disciples chose to follow Jesus.  They chose to pursue this life that is really worth living.

If we were with Jesus on that day, what would we have chosen?  Would you have gone with the crowds, disappointed because Jesus had not given you what you most wanted?  Or, would you have remained, because you believed that Jesus would ultimately give you what you most needed?

Each day, you and I are still given this choice.  As we make choices in our lives, we choose whether we will follow Jesus or we will follow some other god in our life.  We might choose the gods of financial security, material comforts, popularity and influence, recreation and leisure, or even vengeance and retribution.  The way we approach and react to our neighbors shows whom we are following.  When we turn our back on someone in need, ignore the cries of the poor, harden our hearts to the fate of immigrants, and fail to speak out for the abused, we are choosing to follow a path that is different than the one that Jesus offers.

On my good days, I like to imagine that people would say that I am faithfully following Jesus in the choices that I make.  At the same time, I know in my heart that I am a long way from truly being faithful.  There are times that I do not speak out when I should, while also speaking too loudly when I should have spoken softly.  There are times when I received an unexpected material blessing, and I did not give God back a tithe of that windfall.  I have walked by the one in need, and focused on the one who could help me in return.  The list could go on and on…As much as I love Jesus, there are times that I do not make the right choices.  As humans, we are all in the same boat.  Unable to consistently make the choices that lead to life, we all too often choose the way that leads away from Jesus.

That is why Jesus came to this world.  Jesus came that we might have life…not that we might choose life.  Knowing that we could not choose God on our own, Jesus came to make certain that we would always have life.  In our Baptism, God chose us and gave us the gift of life, doing this long before we could ever choose to follow Jesus.  Through the gift of Baptism, the Holy Spirit works in our life to draw us ever closer to God.  As we spend more and more time in God’s church and with God’s people, our hearts turn more and more toward God.        

Today, we are given the opportunity to celebrate, give thanks, and share this gift of life.  Because we have been chosen, we can choose to grow in our relationship with God and share this gift with those around us.  Thanks be to God that we have all been chosen…now, we have the privilege to spend our time enjoying God’s love.

  • What choices do you struggle to make?
  • Has there been a time when you truly celebrated the fact that Jesus had chosen you?
  • How do you balance being chosen by God, while still being called to make choices that honor God?
 

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