“…chosen and destined by God the father…”
“Let freedom ring”, we Americans say. And in saying it we are often referring to what we believe is our inalienable right to choose. If we Americans believe anything in common it is that. We are free to choose. Choice is in our hands.
Where religion is concerned we are free to choose, or not choose. On any given street a Christian, Jew, Muslim and atheist may be neighbors. We affirm this sort of pluralism as a sign of our freedom to choose whatever sort of life we want. In religion especially a person makes his or her own choices.
So, it is jarring, troubling, unsettling , awkward, even offensive to our American sensibilities when Peter writes to people scattered here and there and he writes to us, “To the exiles in dispersion…chosen and destined by God the Father…”. You may choose here and there but in your relationship to God you have been chosen. Peter begins on that note and he never tires of sounding it. He reminds them, and us, that Christians are a “…chosen race…”. How do you like that phrase? You did not choose God. God chose you. Chosen and Christian are synonymous, interchangeable.
Peter also says that the Christian has been …”destined…”. Not by fate or DNA but by God the Father. Chosen, destined, sent, called, we really don’t like that kind of talk but it is all over the place in 1 Peter. In fact, It is all over the Bible. Peter also speaks of baptism in the context of these words. It is like Noah’s ark, he says. You know, all that water and everything. “Baptism, which corresponds to this”, he says, “now saves you.” But how can that be? I didn’t do anything? That’s the point! God has done some choosing of His own. You don’t save yourself. You are chosen sent, destined, called, saved by Him.
The Christian is not free because we have chosen God. We are free because God has chosen us. The Christian is free to serve the neighbor because he or she is free from having to serve or save himself or herself. And not only to serve but to worry and to sweat and to struggle and to plan about how best to serve, how to help, how to decide, how to choose.
The Christian also wants to “Let freedom ring”. But it is not the false freedom of self-willing. The freedom we celebrate is the freedom by which God in Jesus Christ has chosen to forgive sins and through which he destines the elect to inherit the glories of life eternal.
“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”