Choosing Sides

As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  For in Scripture it says:

“See, I lay a stone in Zion,
    a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
    will never be put to shame.”

Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,

“The stone the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone,”

and,

“A stone that causes people to stumble
    and a rock that makes them fall.”

They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.

But you are a 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.  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.

  • 1 Peter 2:4-10

I think what prompted this post is nothing related to the post, but maybe it is. We live southwest of Pittsburgh. Northeast of Pittsburgh, you’ll find Punxsutawney, PA where the most famous groundhog in Pennsylvania lives, Phil. The day this gets posted is Groundhog Day, and Phil will have already made his prediction, not that he’s right half the time… Come on, Phil! It’s a fifty: fifty shot! But regardless of Phil’s prediction, what do you choose? Do you want an early Spring or do you want six-weeks more of Winter. To be honest, the last six-weeks of Winter have felt like late Fall, maybe mid-Fall. I wouldn’t mind a day or two of real Winter. But, on to the real post…

Remember when you were on the playground and there were two people choosing sides, and you sat waiting, hoping that you would not be chosen last?  If you were last, you weren’t chosen.  The last team to pick was stuck with you.  You never wanted to be that guy or girl.  I once heard a comedian talk about hoping to not be picked last.  When he was finally picked, he looked around and the only one left was ‘Johnny in the wheelchair.’  Please, no offense to anyone named Johnny who is in a wheelchair, but the comedian’s point was that in a game where running might be involved, he was really the last one picked.

Okay, among the readers of this, there may be some jocks, people who are reasonably athletic.  There may be, among the readers, some of you who were often picked first, but what if the studly stud was in the playground that day?  You know the one.  If he was on your team, you were going to win.  He was simply that much better.  Then, you get picked second.  You know that you are going to lose, even though you were the second greatest ball player on the field that day.

I spent most of my years in organized baseball as a starter, center field.  My batting average was less than 0.100 (less than one hit out of ten times at bat, when most got 2-3 hits in ten times), but I started because I had this weird ability to start running for the flyball as the batter was swinging the bat.  I guess even in those days, I had a knack for Physics and spatial reasoning.  The coach started me, low in the batting order, so that our team could keep the other team from scoring, and then, in the middle of the game, I was replaced with someone who could hit the ball.

In other sports, I was the guy who could tell you where every splinter was on the bench.  Yes, most of the time, I was picked in the middle or near the last.

But what of our government today in the USA, and it seems in many other countries?  We have two extremes.  All the politicians are standing their ground, regardless of what is going on around them.  If they care about the people who elected them, it does not seem to be obvious.  That covers all of them, regardless of party affiliation.  Trump is trying to get accomplished what he promised, but his bull-in-the-china-shop tactics are adding to the side choosing attitudes of others.  As for the sides, I fear there are evil elements who are manipulating individuals.

Then the media is so slanted that the broadcasting of the news is mostly a joke.  There may be a few facts spoken, but the “alternate facts”, those facts that disprove what the reporter is saying, are left unsaid.  Sadly, many voters will vote based on lies, without seeing through the information that is given.

But then, have you ever heard people say, “I chose God?”  Look at the Scripture above.  It starts and ends with God choosing us.  If ever there was a winning team, I want to be on the team that God chose.

Yet, who did God choose?  Jesus may not have chosen ‘Johnny in the wheelchair’ (then again, maybe He did), but Jesus chose Zacchaeus, who was so short that he climbed a tree to see over the crowd.  Jesus chose the blind, the lame, the demon possessed.  Jesus chose the tax collectors and the sinners.  He chose the ones who were often chosen last in the playground or not chosen by anyone else at all.

But we have this strange idea that we chose God.  It is in our vernacular of ‘accepting Jesus as our Savior,’ but I look back to when I became a Christian.  The Holy Spirit had me convicted of my sins, but it took me over a year in that dreadful state of guilt before I surrendered.  It wasn’t an epiphany where I said, “Lord, You are wonderful!  I choose You!”  No, it was a wretched cry for help.  “Lord, I give up.  Do with me whatever You will.”  As C. S. Lewis wrote in The Problem of Pain, “We are not merely imperfect creatures who must be improved: we are, as Newman said, rebels who must lay down our arms.”

Yes, God chose us.  He just did it in such a way that we, as sinful rebels, would willingly and even joyfully lay down our arms.  For the alternative to God choosing us seems so bleak that it doesn’t seem to be worth considering.  And the alternative is that dark and hopeless, to live without God.  I know of someone who has chosen to reject God.  Each time this person finds the present course to be headed for a disaster, the result seems to be ‘out of the frying pan, and into the fire.’  In other words, the course correction makes matters worse, with less answers and even more questions.  The call of Jesus, the call to reason and Truth, seems to be too distant to be heard.

But God is still calling.  If you choose to listen…

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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