In today’s Bible passage, we read Jesus’ words to his disciples: “You did not choose me, but I chose you” (NIV). These words provide us an important lesson with deep spiritual implications, that God takes the initiative in relating to people.
In some theological circles this is referred to as "prevenient grace," the grace that God extends to us even before we are aware that we need it. The apostle Paul writes that, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8, NIV). In other words, God doesn’t wait for us to get our spiritual lives in order before offering us grace. Rather, God makes grace available to us, bought by the blood of Jesus on the cross, to be received by faith. Moreover, even this faith by which we reach for God’s grace is a gift of God’s Spirit, who is persistently stirring our hearts toward repentance.
Paul further writes in his letter to the church at Ephesus that God “chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight” (Eph. 1:4, NIV). Even before God created night and day, divided land from water, and brought plants and animals to life, we were at the forefront of the Creator's thoughts. God chose us, not only to be invited to be followers of Jesus but to be saved by Jesus.
I am grateful that God chose me and you. God loves each of us, and we are our Creator's treasured possession. To God be the glory forever!
Holy God, thank you for choosing to love and save us. We are holy and blameless not because of what we do or have done but by your grace. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
The Acts passage continues to tell the story of the advance of the gospel. The Holy Spirit falls on a group of Gentiles. They believe and are baptized, thus showing God’s inclusion of all peoples in the plan of salvation. Psalm 98 is a simple declaration of praise. All creation will sing to and rejoice in the Lord. The two passages from John are linked by their emphasis on the relationship between love and obedience. We do not follow God’s commandments in order to make God love us. On the contrary, because God has first loved us and we love God in return, we follow God’s teachings. Jesus provides the model for us, being obedient to his Father out of love.
Read Acts 10:44-48. When has the Spirit of God brought you to a new understanding?
Read Psalm 98. Where have you encountered “a joyful noise” in creation? How do you make a joyful noise in praise of God?
Read 1 John 5:1-6. When have you considered God’s commands as burdensome? When have you found them freeing?
Read John 15:9-17. Are you accustomed to thinking of your relationship with Jesus as a mutual friendship? If so, what does it mean to you to be Jesus’ friend?
Respond by posting a prayer.
This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”
Learn more about our newest Advent resource, Fully Human, Fully Divine here.