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#5 CHOSEN FOR OBEDIENCE ...

Peter makes an unexpected and perhaps even startling statement. He says that God’s elect ‘have been chosen ... for obedience to Jesus Christ’ [1Peter 1:2].

The words ‘chosen ... for’ speak of either the purpose or the result of God’s choice, or, more probably, of both the purpose and the result of God’s choice. God’s actions are neither arbitrary nor random: they are deliberate and intentional, with a deliberate, intentional purpose. God’s actions are also effective: what he determines he also accomplishes. His purpose is also his result. As Psalm 115:3 states ‘Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.’

Many Christians who struggle with the concept of divine election are concerned that it seems to override human responsibility. But here in Peter’s ‘chosen ... for obedience to Christ’ we see that divine election actually involves the ultimate human responsibility – the responsibility of obedience to Christ.

And here we need to ask ‘what does “obedience to Jesus Christ” mean?’

The Greek word translated obedience is the noun hupakoe. The associated verb is hupakouo [hupo – under + akouo – hear]. It involves putting oneself under the authority of another, particularly under the authority of his word. Hence Peter’s reference to ‘obedience’.

Jesus had much to say about hearing/obeying his word:

The parable of the sower is focused on human response to the words of Christ [Matthew 13; Mark 4; Luke 8].

Our response to the words of Christ determines our final destiny [Mark 8:38].

Those who hear his word have eternal life [John 5:24].

His words are both ‘spirit’ and ‘life’ [John 6:63].

Those who continue in his word are truly his disciples [John 8:31].

Only those who belong to God can actually hear his words [John 8:42-47].

His words will both judge and condemn those who refuse to obey them [John 12:47-50].

Jesus refers to his faithful disciples as those who have obeyed, accepted and believed his word [John 17:6,8,14].

This obedience to Christ involves far more than obeying his commands about how to live. It is, in its essence, obeying his repeated challenges to believe in him.

To believe that he is indeed the King of the kingdom that drew near with his coming.

To believe that he is the Son of Man who came to give his life a ransom for many.

To believe that he is the Bread of life and the Light of the World.

To believe that he is indeed the one he claimed to be – the Son of the Father, one with the Father – that seeing him is seeing God, knowing him is knowing God, receiving him is receiving God.

Obedience to Christ, while it impacts every moment of our lives with its demands for submission to Jesus Christ, begins at that point in our personal history when we personally and truly acknowledge Jesus Christ is indeed the Lord.

Here in our real human decision, our real personal affirmation, the eternal purpose of God, the eternal choice of God, becomes real and concrete in physical time and space: we respond to Christ, we obey his command to believe in him.

Although being ‘chosen’ is indeed a great and amazing gift of God, it is also a great and amazing responsibility: those who believe in Christ are not ‘chosen’ for a life of ease and irresponsibility. They are chosen for obedience.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2017