You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. John 15:15 (NIV)

Chosen is a word that has rolled around my noggin for the past week.  We see it often in scripture in both the Old and New Testament.  Abraham and Moses were chosen by God to lead Israel.  The Nation Israel were the “chosen” people by God (Deuteronomy 7:6).

In the New Testament, all of us are the chosen people, not just the nation Israel. Every believer is part of this.   In 1 Peter 2:9 we learn that “we are the chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light”.

Jesus was God’s chosen servant (Matthew 12:18).   We all remember the baptism scene where the spirit of the Lord in the form of a dove lands on Jesus and God proclaimed “This is my son whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17).

The Apostles were chosen by Jesus. The Lord told Ananias that Saul was “my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel.” Acts 9:15.

Note that in every case where someone is chosen, there is a responsibility attached.  Each one  selected by God was chosen for a purpose. Moses was to be the leader of the Israelites in their exodus from Egypt.  But even Moses had grave doubts, and several times asked God to pick someone else. In that well-known scene before the burning bush, Moses asks God “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”  (Exodus 3:11).

God’s answer to Moses is clear: “I will be with you.”  Period. He didn’t say to Moses: you’ve got the right stuff to do what I want.  No, what he said was not complicated. Not a lot of conditions or regulations went with it.  Just simply:  I will be with you every step of the way.

Which leads me to the verse in John 15:15 that has changed my thinking on this topic. In the middle of what I call the “Abide” chapter where Jesus uses the analogy of the vine and the branches, there is the verse written above. It was the first time that realized I was chosen and that I hadn’t done the choosing when I decided to follow Jesus at age 38.

Until I read that passage and understood it and embraced it, I had subliminally thought that my becoming a believer was my own choice.   My choice, not His. At least that’s what I thought until I read John 15:15. It finally sunk in that God had been with me even when I didn’t realize it.  Wow.  I was 180 degrees off course in my thinking.

But life is difficult sometimes.  There are many times in my life when I didn’t feel chosen.  In fact, there were times when I doubted God was with me and I felt disconnected.  I had a hard time seeing God’s hand in financial distress which almost drove me to bankruptcy in the late 1980’s. I didn’t feel so special when I burned out because I ignored the effect of high stress in my life.

Nor did I feel chosen when I got prostate cancer and even now, I don’t feel chosen when I am tempted.  Life sometimes makes us forget that we are chosen forever and that God is with us every step of the way.

I have mentored and met with several men who also face challenges in their lives.  A wayward child, an illness, death of a friend, financial difficulties, marital difficulties, etc.   I try to encourage them through their challenges.   Now that I think about it, I am reminding them that they are chosen, and that like Moses, God will be with them wherever their journey takes them.  Very simple message. Emanuel.  God with us.

The second part of the verse in ohn 15:15 is even more challenging.  It provides the purpose for being chosen: we are to bear fruitWe are to point to Jesus in everything that we do or say.  Not sometimes, but all the time.  Not just when things are going well, but in all circumstances and challenges.  Even at life’s darkest moments. We are not alone.  We have Emanuel.

So, the challenge to each of us is clear.  Do you have challenges that face you causing you not to think of yourself as chosen, and not realizing that God is with you?  I have two suggestions:  Remember the power of God resides within you, and seek others to help you through your difficult times. God didn’t put any of us on this earth to be alone.  He put us here to be in relationship to others. A mentor or trusted friend can be just the encouragement you need when you need it most.

As a mentor, do you know others who are going through dark times and need a word of encouragement.  Don’t be passive:  reach out to them and remind them they are chosen, and that God is with them. Emanuel.

MENTOR TAKEWAY:  One of the purposes God has for mentors is to help others fight through challenges.  Reminding your mentees that they are chosen is a good start.

WORSHIP: Listen to Chris Tomlin sing Emanuel – Hallowed Manger Ground, reminding us that God is with us.

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