If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. John 15:19
Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1-2
I have noticed a pervasive mentality among some believers. We feel pretty privileged to be considered one of God's "chosen ones." We're in the "in club." We've arrived. It's all smooth sailing from here on out, right?
So what does the privilege of the "in club" look like for the chosen ones? When does the party begin? And just what are we chosen for?
About now, you might want to reconsider your club membership. Throughout the Bible, "chosen" had not so much to do with privilege, but a lot to do with responsibility and sacrifice! Check it out.
The Israelites were God's chosen people who got to head on over to the Promised Land where the good life awaited them, right? That's true, right after they were slapped with a harsh sentence for their unbelief and rebellion, put through the "fiery furnace" of Egyptian slavery, only to head into the hot, dry, scorpion infested, thirsty desert for 40 years. After their arrival in the good land, they got to constantly be at war with pagan nations who seemed as big as giants.
Oh wait! How about David? He was the Lord's chosen and he got to be king and have a palace and lots of wives and gold. Well, yes. But first he had to serve a psycho-killer king and then live on the run in the wilderness from him for years—away from the comforts of home and family. Who turned against him during all this time? His friends, his wife, and his brothers all turned their backs on him because he followed the Lord wholeheartedly. And after he entered palace life, he was given the huge chore of fighting the wicked Philistines, and even his own children revolted against him.
Okay, now we got one. The priests were chosen. The people brought them food, they got to wear fancy clothes, throw fancy parties, and interact personally with God Almighty. They had it easy, right? Well…not so fast. The priests were required to serve in the temple, killing animals and dealing with people's sins every day, all year. They were judged more harshly for disobedience, and they couldn't own their own property. They had to constantly figure out what God wanted them to do next and how. It was a privilege to serve the Lord, yes, but it was a grave responsibility and a sacrifice (pun intended) to do it correctly.
Jesus was chosen. Being God's own Son, surely He had extra privileges as the Teacher's pet, right? He had all the power, all the divine favor, all the authority, and all the wisdom. What an advantage right from the start…and what could possibly put a dampter on this party? For starters, Jesus was mocked and laughed at. He was hated. He was doubted and rejected. He was spit on and cursed and beaten. He was put to death without mercy.
Jesus came to demonstrate for us that the greatest privilege—being one of God's chosen—means the greatest responsibility, and the greatest sacrifice. There's no way around it. Chosen is not a special club or an elite status; it is dying to self in order to be Christ to the world. It is being hated by the world even when we love. It is giving up our rights, and practicing delayed gratification.
Today, if you and I are ready to be considered for the status of "chosen," we will have to follow the example of our Savior by laying down our lives to become living sacrifices in this world. Will it be worth it? The greatest reward we could ever imagine will be waiting at the end of the race: Jesus will be standing with open arms, "Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness (Matthew 25:21)!'" What a day of great joy and comfort!