God Chose You For a Reason
5th Sunday after Pentecost
God Chose You For a Reason
Text: 1 Peter 2:9-12
There’s a certain art to it. Picking fruit at the grocery store. I don’t know how it works, but I know there is an art to it. I do know the basics though. Watch out for bananas that are already very yellow. They’ll be brown before you know it. Be careful for certain fruits that are too soft. They’ll be mushy on the inside. I also know that usually the freshest fruits (and vegetables) are in the back of the shelf because they want you to take from the front the food expiring the soonest.
But there are other little tricks of the trade. I find it humorous to watch these in action. You’ll see people picking up fruit, turning it round and round, gently squeezing it, smelling it, even trying to see how easy a leaf plucks off a fruit like a pineapple.
Everyone takes time when choosing fruit because the last thing you want is to choose a rotten fruit. Rotten fruit is yucky and gross. No one wants that. And nothing could be worse than spending time sorting through all the fruit, you pick out something that smells good and looks good, you take it home and you still find it is rotten to the core! Yuck!
It reminds me of the old school yard ballgame. Every day at recess we spent the first five minutes doing the most important thing—picking teams. There was lots of strategy to picking teams. If you go first then you have to pick the best player. Later on you pick players based on what position you can play or what you need on your team. But whatever happened you wanted to make sure you weren’t that last kid chosen. You know—the kid that no one wants because he couldn’t catch a cold, let alone a baseball. No one wants to be chosen last.
Picking teams was tricky too. Sometimes the best player chosen first struck out at every at bat. Sometimes the team you picked didn’t play so well together. Sometimes the player you picked second or third played like they should have been the kid picked last.
Every now and then I see a Christian walking around with a tee shirt that says, “Team Jesus.” It’s a little simplistic, yet it certainly is true that we are all on the same team and Jesus is our captain. It might make you wonder though. What would God look for if he were picking teams?
Would he look for good looks? Would he look for physical fitness? Would he look for cunning personality or sharp sense of humor? Thankfully no! There’s nothing good to seen there!
But we do know the kinds of things that God does look for. He looks for people to be like him. That’s why he originally made Adam and Eve in his likeness—he made them to be perfect and righteous like he is. So God looks for us to follow his commands, to obey him, to live a pure and upright life.
Here’s the question then: What if God inspected us for these things before he chose us. Like a little piece of fruit, he would pick us up and turn us around and look carefully at every little imperfection and flaw trying to find good things in us. Wouldn’t that be a scary thought?
If that were the case, God would throw most of right back into the hopper. “Oh that one is gross. It’s rotten to the core.” There are others of us that might look pretty good on the outside. We might even have others fooled. Others might say about us, “Well there’s a pretty good fruit!” But God knows everything and sees everything and says, “Nope, that one is rotten to the core too.”
How awful it would be if God chose us to be his people based only on our outward appearance or on the works that we have done. If that were the case, no one would ever be on God’s team! What good have I done to please God? Or better, what good have I done that could overcome all the bad that I have done? What good things could I do that would hide the fact that I’m a bruised, mushy, yucky, rotten to the core fruit? I don’t deserve to be chosen. I deserved to be squished and squashed with God’s punishment.
That’s what makes the words of Peter so remarkably incredible today. Look at his opening words in verse 9: “You are a chosen people.” What would you think about me if I told you that when I go to the store I only pick black bananas, mushy grapes, and apples with big wormholes in it? You would think, “I knew that pastor is crazy but now it is confirmed!” But isn’t that what God has done? We, sinful people rotten to the core, have been chosen to be God’s people.
As if that’s not amazing enough, there is more to it. Peter continues, “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood.” You probably know that it takes something special to be considered royal. In some countries you have to be in the right family. In some countries you have to be found worthy of being royalty. You may also know that in Bible times it took something special to be a priest. Not only did you have to born of the tribe of Levi, but then you had to be born in the family line of Aaron the brother of Moses. Then you had to follow certain sets of rules and wear certain kinds of clothes. Then, if you were really special you were the high priest. There was only one high priest at a time. And only on one day of the year could that one high priest enter the Most Holy Place in the temple to be in the presence of God by his ark of the covenant.
Yet here we are reminded that all of God’s chosen people, sinners that we are, have been designated as God’s royal priesthood. He considers us to be royalty, ruling with him. He considers us to be his specially appointed priests that can pray to him and praise him and proclaim to others what he has done.
As if that’s not enough, there is more to it. Peter continues, “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.” What is there about your life that you would describe as “holy”? I think about what I think and say and do, and there is absolutely nothing I would call holy. Holy means perfect, pure, no flaws, no mistakes. I might do good things for the Lord, but I’m not even close to holy.
Yet God considers us to be a holy nation. He sees us as spotless, righteous, perfect. He thinks of us as a whole nation of holy people that do his will.
As if that’s not enough, there is still one more thing Peter has to add: “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God.” What would God possibly want with me? I throw out rotten fruit. I put in the trash socks and shirts that have holes in it. I take to the dump broken furniture.
Yet though there is nothing desirable in us sinners, God has chosen us to be a people belonging to him. We are his own beloved, prized possession that he cares for and looks after and provides for and protects.
These words of Peter are bursting with joy. They are incredible! God chose us to be his people, his priesthood, his holy nation, and his prized possession. But here is the biggest question: Why? Why would God choose me? I haven’t done anything special. I’m just a poor sinner. Why me?
We can find a good answer in verse 10. Here it is: “Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” At one point and time every single one of us was nothing. We were poor, miserable sinners doomed to damnation. But now we are the people of God. Why? Because now we have received mercy. We have received God’s boundless mercy through his Son Jesus Christ. We received a Savior in Jesus Christ who was willing to take up our sins on himself and die to pay for them all. We received mercy in Jesus Christ, whose holy blood washes away every wrong we have ever done.
It’s true. God Chose You for A Reason. But the reason is not because you are so great or so grand. The reason is not that you are so special or done so much for him. We’re mushy yucky fruit. We’re sinners. But God did choose you for a reason. God chose you because he loves you and forgives you. God chose you because of his Son Jesus Christ.
That’s not the only reason that God chose you. Because of his love and mercy God chose you to be his special people. But now that we are his people, God wants us to do something very important. Look at verse nine once more: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, and here is another reason God chose you, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” God has a great purpose for you in your life. He wants you to declare his praises. He wants you to let others know that once you were in the darkness of sin but now you are in the light of his forgiveness. The reason God chose you is first his love and mercy, but secondly he chose you so that you could declare his praises in everything you do.
It’s not just your words either that can praise God. It’s your actions too. Look at the next two verses: “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits.” Another way to declare God’s praises in this world is with the way that you live your life.
You all know what it is like to see a foreigner in America, maybe at a place like Disney World. Those foreigners act so differently you can tell “they are not from around here.” Maybe you have been that foreigner before that sticks out like a sore American thumb in a culture completely different.
This is what you heard Jesus teach in the Gospel today. Jesus tells us to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. We are to abstain from the sinful desires of this world that wage war against our soul. We are to live good lives among a slew of sinners. We are to live upright lives even if others might accuse us of doing wrong. We are to live our lives so differently from everyone else in the world that unbelievers would look at us and say, “They don’t act like they belong here.” And they would be right. We don’t belong here. We now belong in heaven because Jesus made us to be his own people through his death on the cross. So we aren’t going to act like we are people of this world. We are going to act like we are God’s chosen people.
Peter’s words today are really stunning. They stop us in our tracks. It’s incredible to think that God chose us, sinners that we are, to be his special people. Why would he do that? I don’t deserve it. But God Chose You for a Reason. First, God chose you because of his great love and mercy. Secondly, God chose you to declare his praises by what you say and do.
Did you see the big debate this last week? On Wednesday evening there was a live debate streamed all over the world between Bill Nye the Science Guy and Ken Ham. Bill Nye is famous not only for his TV show but also because he is a notorious atheist and evolutionist. Ken Ham is a very famous Bible-believing creation scientist.
Different people have different opinions about how the debate went. Personally, I thought considering all the situations and the global audience, Ken Ham did a marvelous job. He spoke carefully and kindly. He spoke with great intelligence. Most importantly he was unapologetic that creation and our God are things that Christians believe in by faith. We believe in those things just as we believe and trust in our Savior from sin Jesus Christ. (He did a great job being sure to make that testimony to the millions of viewers too!)
As we think about that debate and then these words of Peter, we can’t help but notice a huge difference. Imagine being a meaningless nothing. You exist only because of a Big Bang and a truly random series of events over billions of years. Your only purpose in life is to survive and to somehow advance society as it continues to evolve. No wonder so many people feel like they have a meaningless, purposeless existence.
What a difference from the truth. God made you. God made you for a reason. He made you so that you could serve him and give him glory. And though you have sinned and gone astray, God has still chosen you to be his own dear child. He has forgiven all your sin and given you a whole new purpose in life and reason for living. God chose you so that you could declare his praises every day by what you say and do. God chose you to be a bright light shining in this dark world. Every moment of your life you can live for your Creator and Savior, giving him glory. That’s your reason and purpose and meaning for living. God Chose You For a Reason—to be his people and to declare his praises.