We watched the western Canadian semi-final football game yesterday. Our team didn’t win, yet it interests me how sports teams are picked. The owners and team managers do not put the entire world on their roster. They narrow their options by location, skill at the game, and what they can afford to pay them. Using that and other criteria, they select those whom they think would be able to win and then play against the eastern finalist team in the game called the Grey Cup.
God makes choices too, but He has a bigger prize in mind. He sent His Son to be the Savior of the world. This Son would be born to a virgin, but who would be that woman? God narrowed His choice to Israel, a relatively small group, to be His people for that task. While they were given other responsibilities, it was through them the Savior would enter this world. God would also use the Israelites and their history to illustrate redemption, and to set on them His special love. He explains:
“For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 7:6–8)
Most of Israel loved to be considered the people of God. Most of them still do. In biblical days, their musicians praised the Lord for what He had done:
“Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good; sing to his name, for it is pleasant! For the Lord has chosen Jacob for himself, Israel as his own possession.” (Psalm 135:3–4)
While some of the Jewish people remained true to their calling, not all of them did. However, it was out of this people of God that their Messiah would be born. When He came, God again narrowed His choices. Through Jesus and faith in Him, the people of God are now called Christians. These have become His blessed people, chosen to be holy and blameless, God’s adopted children:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1:3–6)
Even though these words speak highly of this ‘team’ that God blesses, it isn’t because we are large, lofty, or mighty. God even says otherwise and explains why:
“For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’” (1 Corinthians 1:26–31)
If a football team was selected in the same way, the players would be light-weight weaklings without any skills or track records. Imagine that team in the Grey Cup. It would be the laughing stock of the league and appear totally helpless. If they won, it would not be because they had what it takes but because God produced a miracle in their efforts and their lives. Oh my . . .
Jesus, that image spells out what it means to be called as Your child. I have no qualifications to be here or to do Your will. I fall far short. The only way I can accomplish anything is by grace through faith, truly a gift from You — that I might not boast. Blessed be Your holy name!