Written by Claire Hellar, Photo by Calvin Yao
“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight” (Ephesians 1:4).
Iâ€™ve been thinking lately about choiceâ€”about how sometimes becoming who we are takes work.
We donâ€™t choose our family, our skin color, our personality, or our abilities. We do choose our friends, and to an extent, our jobs, habits, and pastimes. We become like the people that we know and spend time withâ€”our friends and family have a huge influence on us. Thatâ€™s why the phrase â€œpeer pressureâ€ exists.
But I donâ€™t think we realize that we can also choose God. The influence God can have on you is so far beyond any of those influences that itâ€™s hard to describe. He can and does change who we are from the inside out if we pursue Him. And He has so much more to offer than anything that we are born having, or anything that we go out and find in this world.
What comes with pursuing Christ?
Not money. Not fame. Not a good career. Not friends or a boyfriend or good grades or popularity or good looks.
But peace. Joy. An inner strength that doesnâ€™t go away and that gets you through bad days, failed tests, failed relationships, and the worst that life can throw at you. Because you have Jesus. And if you try to get to know Him, He will be so incredibly present in your lifeâ€”you will feel Him in your mind and in your heart. Teaching, comforting, sustaining you.
You have so many voices in your life. Your parents. Your best friend. The person you have a crush on. Your boyfriend/girlfriend. Your teachers, bosses, mentors. But none of them can offer you what God can offer youâ€”a voice, a presence, a person, who walks with you every day of your life, every moment, and who will never walk away. You will leave your parents behind, at least a bit, when you go to college, or start your first full-time job, or get married. And even a lifelong best friend wonâ€™t always be with you.
God will. And He takes you just as you are. Takes you for who you are, and where you are. Nothing that you can throw at God can surprise Him or shake the depths of his love for you, or the security of your salvation. Do you know why? Because he doesnâ€™t love you because of who you are. He loves you for who are you areâ€”He created you and knows you backwards and forwards. But he doesnâ€™t love you because you are a certain way or do certain things. He loves you because He chose you before the world began. â€œFor he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sightâ€ (Ephesians 1:4).
God didnâ€™t just choose you and love you without having a purpose for you, though. The second half of the Ephesians verse says â€œto be holy and blameless in his sight.â€ John 15:16 says, â€œI chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruitâ€”fruit that will last.â€ God has freely by His own good grace picked you and saved you so that you can go to heaven and live in eternal happiness close to Him. If you believe in Him, there is nothing you can ever do or not do to change that. But Jesus has also promised us a great joy and peace here in this lifeâ€”and that joy and peace you can have only if you seek after God, obey him, and yes, bear fruit. Obeying Him, and becoming like Him, is Godâ€™s plan for your lifeâ€”this is your identity. And as He has chosen us for all eternity, we need to choose Him daily in response to that.
Obeying Him is the key to unlocking the joy and happiness that he promises. And itâ€™s also a sign that you are a child of God, that your salvation is secure. A preacher once said that if you simply love God, you will love His ways. And itâ€™s trueâ€”if you donâ€™t find yourself, over timeâ€”and sometimes it happens very very graduallyâ€”coming to love His ways, you should probably ask yourself whether you really trust Him, and more importantly, whether you really know Him. If you do know Himâ€”then choose Him. You will choose to make decisions that honor Him and reflect your identity as a child of Hisâ€”whether itâ€™s as simple as not staring over your classmateâ€™s shoulder to steal the answers for a class test, or as complicated as breaking up with a boy or girl because their habits are pulling you away from God.
And in choosing Him, you will come to know Him, and in obeying Him, you will be blessed with a supernatural joy and sense of identity. As Paul has prayed, â€œMay the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believingâ€ (Romans 15:13), and as Jesus promised, â€œI have come that they may have life, and have it to the fullâ€ (John 10:10).