For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. Ephesians 1:4
Even though it is now over 30 years ago I remember studying 1 year of New Testament Greek in Bible College. I actually don’t remember enough but this one thing has come back to my mind this morning as I have meditated on this wonderful verse. These first 14 verses in the original Greek are a single sentence!
As you know every morning in my time with God I am typing out a blog on a verse. I have known those moments when I can’t stop typing words and then I look back and think oh no this sentence is far too long. Not being a grammar expert I think I need at least commas, a semi-colon, I need to put a full stop somewhere in the middle and create another sentence. Looking back at the moment I am trying to bring a better order so that it can be read a little easier. This is what the translators have done with verses 1-14. But in the moment, Paul had no breaths, no full stops. He is bubbling over and praise just seems to spill out from his lips. This is a cascade of adoration. This is a burst of worship coming from the depths of his heart in a prison.
In this prison I am chosen. Whatever the circumstance of our life, left behind, locked down or in prison, it is easy to look through the bars of the prison and see that all the activity is outside. Everyone else seems to be advancing rather than me. I see they have great marriages, perfect families, nice homes and satisfying jobs. But it is not the activity of life, the destiny of life in terms of experiences gained, qualifications and accolades earned that is of any importance. None at all. It is this and this one thing. To be chosen. Not to be chosen for the stages of the world. Not to be chosen by a man or woman. But by Him, God.
I recall the time when a leader said to me, “Paul, I want you to know I nearly chose you for my team. You were in my top 12. I could have chosen you out of those 12 people. But I didn’t. You nearly made it. I just want you to know how close you were to being chosen.” I smiled, lost for words, gazing at a leader who had become lost.
You may wake up this morning and realise you were nearly chosen. Friends! You are! By the one who really matters!
What matters is that you are chosen not for activity but relationship with Jesus! How we need more people to realise that!
When did that choosing happen? Was it when you did something amazing? No of course not! It was when you was never even here. It was before any of us were here. Before the world began He saw you and He chose you. He actually chose us. He saw in His mind the Church, you and me, together as a community being built for His glory. Not chosen to be an island but in connection.
What were we chosen for? To be holy and blameless in His sight.
Here is what happened:
- We were made in His image.
- We were significant, we had a purpose.
- We were provided for, safe and secure.
- We had a sense of identity and belonging to God and others.
- We had an environment.
- We sinned and lost it all.
What we lost was our image of who we belong to and what we are here for. So we began to bear sons and daughters of our image and not God’s. Then we built a world set against the Lord’s image in our lives. And all the time we carried a hurt, a gaping wound in our heart.
And God saw it all. He saw how we would be holy and blameless in his sight. And of course that is the work of Jesus.
You may wake up a failure. Maybe you are not where you should be. Or perhaps you wake up in a prison charged with accusations that are just not true and in truth you should be anywhere but where you are right now. Let the words of the Spirit fall into the recesses of your mind and heart: you are holy and blameless in his sight. How? It is Jesus. If we fail tomorrow, how? It will be Jesus. It will be Jesus until He takes us home.
And he chose us to be his very own, joining us to himself even before he laid the foundation of the universe. Because of his great love, he ordained us, so that we would be seen as holy in his eyes with an unstained innocence. Ephesians 1:4