It is God who chooses
It's hard to understand God's choosing. Why me? For some, they may find this statement to be just as strange especially when paired with the question, "Why me?" So, often we look at this question from a mentality that the negative things going on in our lives are unfair and unearned. However, is this a proper mindset? Well, no, if we read the Word of God properly, we find that God offers forgiveness and grace not because we have done anything to deserve it. On Sunday, we had a reading from Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-18. We find Joshua with the people of Israel in Shechem and the famous quote, "As for me and my house we will serve the Lord." Now in this, we have a call to follow God from Joshua, but also a choice. The choice to serve God or to serve the other gods that they had worshipped or observed. It seems an odd question or even an option when we look at the context of what happened just before this call from Joshua. God had led the people of Israel that had observed God's providence in battle as they had entered into the promised land. The people of Israel saw the walls fall in Jericho and victories that were against all the odds, but the temptation to serve other gods was still there. It is a struggle that still exists today. So, we have the words of Joshua. God desires for us to focus our lives solely on Him, but the words of Scripture highlight that difficulty because other gods are seeking after our attention. At the time of Joshua, the spirit of the people were to pray to idols, today we find other things that fight for our attention that may not be as obvious. We are reminded in the reading of Paul from Ephesians 5:6-21 that tells us of the temptation to follow other voices. These voices tempt us from following God to follow other gods. They lead us down paths of hopelessness and loss and can cause one to lose sight of the promises that God has to offer us through Jesus Christ. When the Truth of our faith is proclaimed these are the voices that people who are offended by the Truth run to for shelter, but in the end, they find only emptiness and death. The danger for us is that we may lose sight of the salvation we have been given if these are the only voices that surround us. For followers of Christ, it should give us pause. Why? Because if these voices become the majority of our life, our hearts can become bitter against God, particularly in times of suffering. Suffering happens. We will all be confronted with loss, but if the voices surrounding us are only telling us of how good we are and how well we have lived our hearts will reject the love of Christ because a sense of entitlement replaces our sense of awe.
In John 6:51-69, Jesus is addressing those that had witnessed the miracle of the loaves and fishes and had their bellies filled. These people had also seen the miracles Jesus had performed in healing the afflicted that were brought to Him. When Jesus speaks of eating his flesh and drinking his blood, many of those that had been following Him were driven away. The teaching was too hard. It was anathema to them to think of eating any flesh or see Jesus as something more than a teacher and prophet. To believe in Him as God was just too much. That is the struggle that many still face this day. There are those that like to speak of Jesus as a great teacher and will lift up some of His moral teachings as positive for life, but still, do not bend their knee to Him. The Christian walk is challenging in that it calls us to something beyond ourselves. It drives us to let go of other gods when fully confronted with His words. This is too much for those that think that they are good enough and do enough in their lives and believe that Heaven is deserved. If we believe that we are the ones that are choosing to believe in God, then the difficulty of faith is even more significant. If we could choose to be good, if we could choose to follow Jesus, then Jesus' death on the cross was unnecessary. Ultimately, it is about our inability to choose God, and the humility that creates that shows us the face of God and fills us with a greater sense of grace. The goal of any follower of Christ is to reflect that love humbly out that others may see the face of Christ through your living. This will always be imperfect, and that is where the Holy Spirit steps in. Without the Holy Spirit no one can come to know Christ, and without Christ, one can not truly know the Father. That is our faith. That is the Truth of our faith. The people of Israel no more chose God than we can choose Jesus Christ. The God of Israel is the same God that we worship this day. God chose me, and God chooses you. Will you listen to His call or will you choose to follow your free will - the gods of your fathers and forefathers? As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Amen.