Peter gives us a second key phrase to help us understand what is happening in our lives.
It’s found toward the end of verse 1.
We are chosen.
We are rejected by this world, yes.
But two, we have been selected by the ruler of the universe.
2. Being a Christian means being selected.
“To those who reside as aliens…who are chosen…”
Which is a fair translation as long as you understand that in the original the word chosen isn’t so far from the word for aliens.
It in fact describes it.
We are chosen strangers.
When we look at what is going on in our lives, there’s how it is with us and the world around us, we are like strangers.
But then there’s also how it is with us and God, we are chosen.
And to get a biblical perspective on life in this world we have to hold these terms in balance.
We are strangers, but we are more than strangers, we are chosen strangers.
I know that some people get nervous when they hear preachers start talking about people being chosen but no matter how you feel about the idea you absolutely cannot get around it biblically.
If you believe in the Bible you believe in election, you may have different ideas about how it works I guess, but election, it is all throughout.
Just take a concordance, look up elect or chosen and you will see it popping up all throughout the New Testament.
And not just the New Testament, actually. The term itself goes all the way back to the Old Testament.
In fact, let me tell you something interesting.
Some of you are into commentaries and some of you are not.
I don’t want you to get all bogged down in scholarly details but I think one of the things you notice as you read what scholars write is that throughout history there has been some debate as to whether Peter is writing primarily to Jewish believers or to Gentiles.
It is pretty much accepted across the board at this point that he is writing to Gentiles but the one reason there has been some discussion is because in the words of one author Peter often talks to the people reading the letter as if they were Jews. The language he uses to address them is the language we find describing God’s people in the Old Testament; like this phrase, chosen.
We sometimes speak of being chosen and the doctrine of election as if it were a New Testament idea but if there is one thing the Old Testament makes clear it is that God specifically selected the people of Israel for Himself.
Quoting, Deuteronomy 7:6, “out of all the peoples of the earth, the Lord God has chosen you for Himself” which obviously the put the nation of Israel in a very privileged position. This was not God up in heaven hoping that a nation would seek Him out, this is God seeking them out. Quoting, Deuteronomy 14:2, “For you are a holy people to the Lord your God and the Lord has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.”
Which was absolutely huge.
I mean, I want you to imagine a nation specifically chosen by the one true God for Himself, being a part of that, being the people through whom God would display His absolute stunning magnificence. If you were living back then and if you could somehow lay out all the nations of the earth that you read about in the Old Testament on the table, to choose which nation you wanted to be part of, you kind of walk through the pro’s and con’s of each, Babylon’s got nice parks or whatever, I want to be part of the people whom God who created the entire Universe has chosen to place His special affection on and in whom He has chosen to find His delight.
The privileges of that.
The whole Old Testament is a record of the privileges of being God’s chosen people. And in fact, we find at every point, that the nation of Israel’s problems always began when they failed to recognize that and started thinking of themselves like just any other nation; and part of Peter’s intention I think is to remind us that as we look at our lives not to make the same mistake.
We are strangers, yes.
But we are also chosen.
We are the recipients of tremendous blessing. We as believers have a very unique relationship with God. He has chosen us out of this world to be a special people for Himself. You are a Christian because you have been chosen to be one by God. Like in the Old Testament, we read about Israel being chosen, you as a believer are a believer, because you have been chosen.
And you know that’s huge.
If you look at all the peoples of the world, while you can see all kinds of examples of God’s amazing kindness, some are situated in beautiful places, some have a great deal of money, some enjoy some measure of peace, but out of all the possible blessings a person or people might experience in this world, you are right now experiencing the ultimate; you have been chosen by God for Himself; and the thing is I don’t think it is until you as a believer really view yourself from that perspective that you can really have proper view of what is happening in your life.
The rejection you experience as a believer, the suffering, God is not somehow far removed and unconcerned about you in the middle of it; it doesn’t say anything about your status with God; as we look at what is happening to us, we can be honest about it, we are aliens, strangers but we can’t stop there, that’s not all there is to our identity, we are also chosen and it’s right there, in that, believing that and embracing that, where we will find the key to consistent obedience in the face of sufferings and persecution.
As we rejoice in God’s choice of us in the past, we are enabled to stand fast in the present.
It is so sad that the idea of election is one that is so hotly debated among Christians, because this is one of the very truths that God has designed and told us about not as something controversial but to be a means of comfort, a source of strength.
In fact you know I don’t have a verse but it would not be surprising to me if Satan actually did everything in his power to obscure the fact that while it is true that we are rejected by the world, at the same time it is also true we are recipients of an almost unbelievable privilege, we have been selected by God.
Rejected, but selected. Rejected because selected. Really.
Satan has to want to do everything he can to help us turn this into an academic subject that we only fight about in seminary classrooms but don’t apply to our lives because if we do that, if we leave it there, we will end up missing out on what this truth is really supposed to do in us, which is produce strength.
As someone has said, “God’s choice of us in the past produces hope for the future which results in obedience in the present.”
Our life in this world is not one long story of random pain and suffering. Our entire existence is rooted in the great, sovereign, eternal plan of God; ultimately the trials which we are experiencing as strangers and temporary residents is not because God has forgotten us, but because He hasn’t, forgotten about us, because He has chosen us out of the world for Himself.
And if you want proof that is the way it works, I think the absolute best example of what I am talking about is found in 1 Peter itself, 1 Peter 2, Jesus Christ; who Peter says was rejected by men, but choice and precious in the sight of God. Actually Peter says, “coming to Him as to a living stone, which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also as living stones…”
This whole rejected by the world chosen by God thing didn’t start with you.
We see the same exact thing happening with Jesus.
We look to Jesus and it helps us understand the way life is going to be in this world, yes rejected by men but at the same time, completely, totally accepted by God.
Choice and precious.