“For we know, brothers loved by God, that He has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit, and with deep conviction.” 1 Thessalonians 1:4,5 New International Version
“When I know that I am chosen, I know that I have been seen as a special person. Someone has noticed me in my uniqueness and has expressed a desire to know me, to come closer to me, to love me. When I write to you that, as the Beloved, we are God’s chosen ones, I mean that we have been seen by God from all eternity and seen as unique, special, precious beings.” (Life of the Beloved, pg. 53, Henri Nouwen)
This morning did not turn out as planned. I was scheduled for a medical procedure at the crack of dawn! I didn’t sleep very well last night knowing I had to be ready to go very early.
I arrived at the facility at the same time as an older lady who was just a little cranky! After we had both checked in and we were waiting for the next step in our morning, she engaged me in conversation. We shared “war” stories about our various ailments. As my name was called for the procedure, the lady asked me how I kept such a positive outlook on life. My answer took her completely by surprise when I simply said, “God!”
Now here is where the morning fell apart. Because they missed seeing on my chart the information about an implant, they were unable to do the scheduled MRI. Not only were they unable to do it, none of their facilities is equipped to deal with my neurostimulator! At this point, that positive attitude my elderly friend remarked on came crashing to the ground. I don’t do “messed up plans” very well. I’m trying, but my Type A personality still kicks in sometimes causing my attitude to sink faster than a meteor in quicksand!
Lady, if you only knew how often I struggle with being positive, how many times I find my attitude anything but positive when my plans are foiled! As I write these words I see how ridiculous they look and must also sound! Lady, if you only knew the times I barely manage to remain in control of my anger, how many times bitterness has camped outside the entrance to my very being demanding entrance! How many times, if my thoughts were given a voice, I would appear as anything but positive. The truth remains; it is God who makes any positive reflected by me, in me, and through me even possible!
I believe it is an astounding revelation that 1) we need to receive being the chosen 2) as we accept that we are the Beloved 3) at the same time we are becoming the Beloved. Recognizing that we are the chosen is integral to the process of being the Beloved and becoming the Beloved. It is another truth we need to receive deep into our psyche allowing it to transform how we believe God sees us. Because guaranteed, He views you and me through extremely different lenses. God sees us through eyes filled with love and grace, looking beyond the broken pieces that make up who we are to the whole He created us to be and to become, the Beloved!
“To be chosen as the Beloved of God is something radically different. Instead of excluding others, it includes others. Instead of rejecting others as less valuable, it accepts others in their own uniqueness. It is not a competitive, but a compassionate choice.” (ibid)
This is where the reality of loving ourselves becomes critical. We will not be able to honestly accept others if we are not able to accept ourselves! It is impossible to value others when we cannot place value on ourselves. How do we love others when we are not able to experience the love, grace, and, yes, the pride God has for us, His children? How do we expect to provide a starving world with the food of God if we don’t have any ourselves? How do we tell them about the incredible love and grace God has for them if we do not believe it for ourselves?
Lady, if you only knew how often I struggle with maintaining a positive outlook, how I wrestle with understanding the idea of being the chosen of God. Lady, if you only knew my desire to take in the belief that I am the Beloved of God, and my longing to never surrender to the lies of the enemy! The enemy is ever present, ever ready, ever seeking to draw us into “… the darkness of self-doubt, low self-esteem, self-rejection, and depression.” (ibid pg.58) The truth of being the chosen begins a process of reconciliation within the process of God’s Grace, leading us to the joy of being the Beloved as we become the Beloved.
“Our preciousness, uniqueness, and individuality are not given to us by those who meet us in clock time—our brief chronological existence—but by the One who has chosen us with an everlasting love, a love that existed from all eternity and will last through all eternity.” (ibid pg.58)
Nouwen lists three guidelines that are crucial in the Life of the Beloved:
- Understand the world around you is manipulative, controlling, power hungry, and, in the long run destructive. The world tells you many lies about who you are, you simply have to be realistic enough to remind yourself of this. (ibid pg. 59)
- You have to keep looking for people and places where your truth is spoken and where you are reminded of your deepest identity as the chosen one. Yes, we must dare to opt consciously for our chosenness and not allow our emotions, feelings, or passions to seduce us into self-rejection. (ibid pp. 58,59)
- You have to celebrate your chosenness constantly. This means saying “thank you” to God for having chosen you, and “thank you” to all who remind you of your chosenness. (ibid pg. 59)
Coming to terms with this paradigm shift isn’t an easy task. Nearly everything we have been led to believe contradicts the truths revealed in the message of our being the chosen and the Beloved. But lies never will never be truth no matter how long they are told, no matter how many tell them, no matter how powerful those telling them may appear!
All that matters is we begin to believe the gospel message as it is found in the paradigm shift that is our true reality. And that reality is this: You and I are the chosen of God. Because of this we are also the Beloved of God, and we are becoming His Beloved. All of this He accomplishes for the sake of His name, declaring that He is faithful in all things no matter how faithless we are!
And once more we are reminded of that awe-inspiring verse that sums up everything quite neatly: “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life,” period! And to my way of thinking and understanding it just doesn’t get any better than that!
“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.” John 3:16 The Message