I Choose You

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.”

John 15:16

Over the last few months most of America has become painfully aware that we are a divided nation. Its no wonder then that some of the most often quoted verses of scripture to eradicate the problem are found in Matthew 22:37-40 where Jesus was speaking to a Pharisee, “Jesus said to him, "'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." Jesus was referring to the Ten Commandments given to us in Exodus and Deuteronomy and then affirmed in the Gospels.

In Matthews gospel where Jesus gave the longest sermon He ever preached on the Mount of Beatitudes, Jesus called His disciples to emulate the very love He would model and offer to all of humanity which including me and you. Here is where many who read these passages go astray. In verse 48 Jesus says, “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Those gathered there that day wouldn’t have walked away from the teaching with their heads held high thinking to themselves, “that’s how I live my life” or, “hearing Jesus today sure makes me feel good about my religion.” No, on the contrary those who were listening were thinking to themselves exactly what Jesus had intended they would have thought then and what you and I should be thinking today, “who can be saved then, as I am far from perfect?” Jesus had already told them way back in verse 20, “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”

The Jews in Jesus day held the Pharisees in high esteem and so Jesus comparing those gathered on that hillside to the Pharisees,  left them feeling like heaven would be virtually impossible for them to attain no matter how hard they try. They knew that if salvation was based upon their dedication and commitment to the law of Moses and the most strict adherence to the Rabbi’s teachings, they were all but lost. Again, that is exactly what Jesus wanted them to comprehend because the law has never saved anyone. The very purpose of the law in the first place was not to justify a man but rather to act as boundaries and guides that would ultimately point to the Savior who would be revealed one day.

The only way possible for humanity to love the way God calls us to love is to recognize that there is no way humanly possible for any of us to love others the way that Jesus called us to love them. Our only hope is to allow God to love other people through us. When we do that all the emotion associated with love that we are most familiar with is removed as love becomes a matter of choice. The point is this, God loves us because it’s His very nature, it’s who He is (see 1 John 4). God’s love is not based upon your performance or mine, its based solely upon Jesus love that He demonstrated for us on Calvary’s Cross. Jesus could love the kindness person as well as the most deplorable of society exactly the same as His love for them was not determined by their actions but His. Our God is a choosing God, who loves us in spite of us. God’s agape love might best be described as “one way love.” Remember, it's not that we loved Him, but that He first loved us.

God’s agape love is the solution to the world’s woes, then and now. To love God with all that is in us and all that we have will naturally result in our loving other people as when we love God first we come to understand that everything God does for us is based upon His first loving us, His choosing us. If God loved us on the basis of our merit we all would have hell to pay. God’s love isn’t emotional but it does affect our emotions. God’s love is a deliberate act that reveals the very nature of God. We know God’s love not just because His Word declares it, but because God demonstrated His own love toward us by sending His only begotten son to die for us. It’s been well said that “love is a verb, not a noun.” Actions always speak louder than words. If we honestly love God, it will show in the way we treat other people, all people, friends and foes alike because God’s love isn’t moved by emotions or how we feel but by choice. We love because we choose to love.  

Thank God there is no partiality in His love, only in our response to it. There should be no partiality in our love for others as we are called of God to choose to love knowing in advance that undeserving people just like us are brought to God through acts of loving kindness that demonstrate the Grace of God. So people see God we don't give them what they do deserve but rather we show them God's mercy and grace by giving them the very thing none of us deserve, His love.

“Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?”

Romans 2:4


Michael Osthimer





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