Sunday mornings at Grace, our adult class is working through Michael Horton's Putting Amazing Back Into Grace. This excerpt from a couple weeks back, addressing the doctrine of God's sovereign election, brought back some painful childhood memories!
We all remember the schoolyard games, when the most popular kids, serving as team captains, would pick the other popular kids. Everyone hoped to be at least a third- or fourth-round pick. Being chosen last could be so humiliating that the poor kid who was last often just gave up and stood by himself on the sidelines rather than suffer repeat performances. That happens in church, too. Choices are made concerning people based on their performance or popularity. But the doctrine of election puts folks in their place. On this playground, Christ is the team captain of the "foolish," the "weak," the "base and despised," the "nothings," in order to show the wise, the strong, the popular, and the "somebodies" of the world that we all come to him on equal terms, empty-handed (see 1 Corinthians 1:18-19). God has chosen a team that any "loser" can join...
Horton continues: Knowing that God has chosen us reminds us that we are loved, though not lovely; chosen, even though we're not necessarily choice in the eyes of the boss, the spouse, the parents, or the folks at church. We are accepted - not because we are acceptable ourselves, but because "he hath made us acceptable in the beloved" (Ephesians 1:6).
I was one of those kids always chosen last in PE class. Yes, it was humiliating. I was a misfit socially - shy, awkward, nerdy, the antithesis of "cool." Even though I compensated by over-achieving academically, I was always very conscious that I was different, out, weird, a loser. I was painfully reminded of that again this weekend.
Maybe that's why Horton's illustration hit a nerve with me. He didn't sugar coat the situation. Horton admitted the truth: "Yeah, you're a loser." But then he presented the Gospel - the amazing Gospel - that the Captain of everything, the creator and sustainer of the universe, looked at me as I stood with downcast eyes and a heavy heart, and He said, "I choose you."
So I've been reminded, again, that I'm a loser...something I'd momentarily forgotten living in the glorious sunshine of God's grace. Felt like a kick in the stomach. Made me want to run hide in a dark corner of the playground. Yeah, I cried. But then my lovely Captain sought me out, comforted my bruises, and reminded me anew, "I love you. I chose you. You are accepted."
Concerning the doctrine of election, Martin Luther wrote, "...the greatest and only consolation and assurance for Christians in their adversity is that...God does all things immutably and that His will cannot be resisted, changed, or hindered." Michael Horton summarizes Luther: "In other words, when God sets out to initiate someone's salvation, he inevitably finishes it!"
God is pleased with me because He is pleased with Christ, and His good purposes for me cannot and will not be thwarted. He will indeed transform this Loser into the glorious likeness of His beloved Son.
I am loved, and I am safe.
Yes, I'm probably the world's biggest loser, but you should just meet my Captain!
4 weeks ago