An Unlikely Choice
Do you have a friend that you look at and wonder how in the world you're even friends?
I had a friend like that. On pretty much every topic, we never agreed. We'd take the time to listen and try to understand the other's viewpoints, but we never agreed. You'd think that we could agree on something as simple as the amazingness of pizza, but even in diet she was in a whole different world than me!
She was single, I was married with kids. She had very strong views on how children should be raised, I was raising mine entirely differently. She was very restrictive in her diet, I like to make meals out of cupcakes. She was atheist, I am Christian. The list goes on... and on... and on.
It wasn't long before I started wondering what in the world kept her coming around? Why would she want to spend time with me when we have literally nothing in common?
Prior to my salvation, I wondered the same thing about Jesus. He was so different than me, why would He want anything to do with me?
Read Matthew 9:9-13
Have you ever looked at the people that Jesus called to be His disciples? The whole bunch is really not one that you'd expect. You'd think He'd gravitate towards the religious leaders, after all, they did (kinda-sorta) stand for the same things Jesus did. They knew the known Bible word-for-word. They sought to at least look committed to the Lord on the outside. While it might be weird to point out that it would kind of be expected for Jesus to gravitate to religious leaders, I just wonder how odd is it really? I mean, pastors are friends with other pastors. It's not unusual for the family of God to hang out with one another, right? Even if it is with people who might look like they have it all together on the outside, but on the inside, Jesus can't be found (much like some of these religious leaders).
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Jesus didn't go along with the expected or the natural, instead, He gravitated towards those who knew that they were less than perfect and undeserving of God's love. He gravitated towards those who understood that they didn't measure up to God's standards of holiness, but who desperately wanted Him anyway.
I read this story about when Jesus went to Matthew (Levi), a tax collector, and chose Matthew as His disciple. Matthew is very much the unlikely choice. First, we know Matthew was a tax collector. It would be like Jesus coming nowadays and hanging out with the IRS. It wasn't so much the collecting taxes that made tax collectors so hated. It was the tax collectors who were corrupt and greedy, who took more than they should have. Tax collectors were sell-outs. They were the ones who would throw their own people under the bus for a buck. And this is the type of person that Jesus chose to spend His time with. Not only that, but Jesus chose Matthew to be His disciple.
Now, we can look at Matthew and see how unlikely of a choice He was. But the truth is, we're all unlikely choices and Jesus still chooses us.
Romans 5:7-8 reminds us that Jesus died for us while we were still sinners, while were still His enemies. He sacrificed His life for us when we were His enemies. Let that sink in. Would you willingly sacrifice your life (out of incredible love) to give your enemy a chance at (eternal) life? Talk about an unlikely choice! He chose to die for me knowing that I would never deserve it and I could never pay Him back.
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Ephesians 2:8-10 reminds us that Jesus gave His life as a gift of GRACE. That we don't have to work for our salvation, that it is freely given to us. I think so many of us, if faced with a situation where we could lay down our life, we would want to put conditions on it, making people work off their debt to us. But Jesus FREELY gave us the gift of salvation by His grace. It's not a gift that hangs over our heads for the rest of our life, but a gift that we can truly marvel at, appreciate, enjoy. Would you give a gift of this magnitude, with no strings attached?
Jeremiah 29:11 reminds us that God has plans for us. You should read it to see what that is, but I want to camp out on the truth that God has plans for our life. Long before we were born, He had a plan for your life. While we were still enemies, God had a plan in mind for us. Long before we ever decided to love Him back, He had plan for us. A good plan. A plan for our good. He had His absolute best plan in mind for you and me.
Jeremiah 29:13 reminds us of the promise that when we go looking for Him, we will find Him. Matthew 7:7-11 and Hebrews 11:6 also share this same promise. When we search for Him, we will find Him. Hebrews 11:6 shares with us that God rewards those who earnestly seek Him. What promises!!
In these verses listed, we find a God who loved us long before we ever loved Him back. We find that God made good plans for our life. We find that He has always made Himself available to us, even when we were enemies of Him. All of these are unlikely decisions in an unlikely choice to choose and love us. Isn't that humbling? Isn't it incredible?
What's even more incredible is how Matthew responded to Jesus' choice to choose him.
The very first thing Matthew did was invite his friends (and Jesus) to a party at his place. He didn't invite people who appeared to be perfect God-followers, he invited people just like him. He invited fellow tax collectors and sinners. I think he understood how incredibly valuable it was to be called by Jesus and he wanted to share that joy and that gift with his friends.
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We're all unlikely choices, just like Matthew was. Do we take the gift of grace and salvation that Jesus offers us and choose to share it with others by introducing them to Him? Do we choose to be friends with unlikely people just like Jesus chooses to be our friend?
I don't want to hoard Jesus' gift for myself, like Matthew, I want to share it with the people in my world. What about you?
When we finally realize how unlikely of a choice we are, may we choose to share His blessings with the world. May we choose to introduce our neighbors, our friends, our family, and complete strangers to Jesus.