The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the Lord loved you! (Dt. 7:7-8)
So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.(Rom.9:16)
These are core sentences. Central to our Lord’s ways and doings. Nothing to boast about ourselves – our numbers, our abilities, our merits, our good sides or our potential or credentials. This really is about, what makes God choose and call people to be his, members of his Church, sheep of his pasture and fold. It’s all about his love (Chesed/Grace) and his unfailing mercy and favour.
If you’re loved, appreciated and favoured, you feel just great and wonderful. You know deep down its undeserved and quite a miracle really. Yet if familiarity breeds contempt and the longer you are loved, the more you take it for granted too. It happens in the best of families. Then the undying love is no longer as highly appreciated, it is considered old news and common. Something which was rather deserved after all. That’s where Israel wronged too, liberated from the clutches of Pharaoh, released from slavery, delivered from the pursuing army and the towering Red Sea, sustained in the desert by manna, quail and fresh water and against ever present enemies and dangers. They had experienced the deliverance as a gift by God’s miracles and wonders – just like the return from exile in Babylon later. This was all a shadow of the things to come – the true and fundamental salvation and redemption of sinners through the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, his words and deeds, his love and grace, his forgiveness of all our sins.
After a time the liberated and freed exiles, slaves and vagrants believed that they deserved it. It was their right. They could step up demands and get a better deal. Ridiculous, pitiful, disgraceful, shameful. That is why they have to hear it again – and again. It’s not your doing. Not your achievement or success, but rather God’s free election. Not your running or willingness which counts, but rather God’s heart and gut feel for you. His undeserved love for you. His favour and mercy, which is new every morning. That’s what worked for Abraham – that lonely migrant transversing the Middle East. It worked for his descendants being freed from Egypt. It worked for Amos, that farmer tending sycamore figs. It worked for ruddy David out in the fields. It worked for Isaiah, Jeremiah, Solomon – kings and prophets, but also for all those other saints too Elisabeth and Mary, for John and James, Peter and Andrew, Paul and so on. Even those wise men from the East, Lydia in Europe, Simon from Cyrene and the treasurer of Candace both from Africa – all had this working in their favour and for their gracious salvation – the undeserved love and mercy of our God and Lord. Not their willingness or running power, but God’s grace and goodness. It’s what makes all the difference. It’s the crucial part of the story. It’s the hinge and anchor of all and everything. Without it – all would be lost. In, with and through it all is possible and going to work out good and even perfect.
That’s why we Christians can’t be proud, haughty or conceited without loosing basic truths and realities. We can’t look down on others as if we were intrinsically better than those without forgetting that we too are but poor, miserable sinners, who have been granted pardon and forgiveness through grace and mercy for Christ’s sake. If we are saved, its only God’s doing and miraculous working, just as it remains the sorry truth that if we are lost it is but our own grievous fault and only we are to be blamed for that too. The corollary of this is the good news too, that we have got no reason to despair or give up, because our salvation is in good hands with our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. He does not fail or falter. He continues to do his good work without tiring. He loved us even before the foundation of the world. From the very beginning, he has predestined us for life and blessed salvation with him in eternity. There is nothing and no one, who will stop him from achieving his glorious gaol and put his gracious will through. That is why we can relax and enjoy his goodness and mercy every day anew. He is taking good care of us and he will not forget or reject us, but rather pull us towards him continuously until we are with him in blessed unity and finally at peace. Just as he started his work of salvation in us when we were baptised as tiny, helpless infants so he continuous to work his gracious work of salvation in us by his very means of grace overcoming our shortcomings, our faults and sinful being wonderfully and lovingly. “For this it is my duty to thank and praise, serve and obey Him. This is most certainly true.” (ML 3rd Article SC)
Oh, for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer’s praise,
The glories of my god and King,
The triumphs of his grace!
My gracious Master and my God,
Assist me to proclaim,
To spread through all the earth abroad
The honors of your name.
The name of Jesus charms our fears
And bids our sorrows cease,
Sings music in the sinner’s ears,
Brings life and health and peace.
He breaks the power of canceled sin;
He sets the prisoner free.
His blood can make the foulest clean;
His blood avails for me.
Look to the Lord, who did atone
For sin, O fallen race.
Look and be saved through faith alone,
Be justified by grace.
See all our sins on Jesus laid;
The Lamb has made us whole.
His soul was once an offering made
For every human soul.
To God all glory, praise, and love
Be now and ever given
By saints below and saints above
The Church in earth and heaven.
Hymn # 276 from Lutheran Worship Author: Charles Wesley, 17-7-1708