1 Peter 1.2 ""¦elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father"¦" ...
1 Peter 1.2 ""¦elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father"¦"
The word "elect" is maybe better translated as "chosen". Along with "foreknowledge" the word "chosen" is one of the greatly misunderstood words of Scripture. Churches have split over the meaning and implication of these words. This page is not for rehashing theological arguments that have gone on for centuries. I am limiting what I say here to how these words nourish and encourage us in our experience of knowing and walking with God.
If we are chosen, it means that someone else did the choosing! If we were chosen for a certain position it does not mean that we secured it for ourselves. As the word is used in our vocabulary it can bring up bad memory and sour taste. The person chosen for a team or job or associate is usually the best in their field, the expert. If you are chosen it means that in the mind of the one doing the choosing you were pre-eminently qualified and able to do the work. If you are not chosen and watch another receive the honor there is the sickening feeling of knowing you were not the best, not qualified.
I remember when I was a young teenager standing awkwardly in the school playground while the teams were being picked for a soccer game. The team captains would vie for the best players and when everyone had been picked they would argue as to who would have to have me on their team. I was looked upon as a liability more than an asset. I can still hear the angry muttering from the jocks on the team who was unfortunate enough to get me, "Do we really have to have Smith ruin our game?" Since those moments of mortification I have hated sports. And the word "choose"!
But I have come to see that with God the word takes on a new and wonderful meaning. God takes the initiative in choosing us, and His reason for choosing us is not to be found in us, but in Himself, in the mystery of His infinite unconditional love. And He does not choose on the basis of track record - if so there would be no one on the team! He chooses the least qualified, the losers; He told us that He came for the "sinners" and the "lost". We are chosen entirely due to His love, grace, mercy and saving work in Jesus Christ.
Another aspect of this word that is implicit in our human use of the term is that if one is chosen, someone else must be rejected. Everyone cannot be chosen. We cannot fathom how He can limitlessly love every individual totally committing Himself to each one as if they were the only one in existence. Humans cannot do that; it takes us a lifetime to attempt it with one person. Nor can we understand how He can choose one without rejecting another. But with our infinite God the word does not mean He rejects some to choose others. Because He has chosen me does not mean He has rejected you. Think about that!
Something else about this word "chosen" it is plural. It is difficult to put this emphasis into English. We could say "chosens" (!) or "the chosen group". He is not addressing the readers one by one but as a company.
"The chosen" is another name for the Body of Christ. When we are in Christ we are part of His Body and become part of the company that is chosen and precious to God. It is the Body of Christ that is chosen because they are united to Christ the Chosen One of whom the Father said at His baptism, "This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." Which is an echo of Isaiah 42.1.speaking of Christ as "My chosen one in whom my soul delights." In the early church this term was used to describe those to be baptized. Entering into the Body of Christ they were designated "the chosen".
When I first came to the U.S. there was a ship in Liverpool that had been set aside, chosen to go to New York harbor. By going on board and being part of the passenger list I become one of the group chosen to go to New York, I become one with the destiny of that ship.
Each cell in my body is chosen to share in and also to promote my life. The honor of being a cell chosen to be the expression of me does not belong to an individual cell, but to the cells as a whole, as they exist in my body. Outside and separated from my body they are dead. So I am not chosen by God as an isolated individual, but as being part of the chosen Body of Christ, sharing in His lif e and expressing Him to the world. We are loved even as He, and enter into His chosen status to share His eternal destiny
These persecuted people that Peter writes to were regarded by the world as the scum of the earth, but in fact were the chosen of God, unrecognized and despised in a world that was at war with God. The epistle to the Hebrews references this when describing God's persecuted people as "of whom the world was not worthy".
Know who you are - and let your lifestyle reflect who you are.