Benedictine University and MySpiritualAdvisor.com’s Mark Kurowski reflects the movement of God, recruiting volunteers for Little League and being chosen by God. What does this have to do with you where you are?   This question and more are answered in this audio. Contact us to make a comment, we may post it at the end of the text of this reflection.  Please read John 15:9-17.

{B 35 2012 06 Easter{/mp3}

For Benedictine University and MySpiritualAdvisor.com, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 5/13/2012The 6th Sunday of Easter.

Please pause this audio and read John 15:9-17.
    The Joy of Being Chosen
“You did not choose me, but I chose you.”
It seems like a simple enough statement.  As Jesus says good-bye to his apostles, he speaks to them about abiding in his love and remaining faithful to him by keeping his commandment that they love one another.  Then he says, “You did not choose me, but I chose you.”
What is so significant about this verse in the passage from the Gospel of St. John? It states that it is God who acts first.  It is his power, and we who react to it, that make a positive change for the Kingdom.  There is great joy in being chosen!
When I was a kid growing up, there was a church down the street that had bumper stickers that said, “I found it!”  Everyone in their church had these bumper stickers on their cars, windows, luggage.   You name it and they had the bumper sticker on it. Of course, what those folks meant was that they found salvation in Jesus Christ.  This notion is full of problems for us.
     To say, “I found it,” means that the action in salvation is ours.  That is contrary to Ephesians chapter 2 which says, “By grace you have been saved through faith.  This is not your own doing; it is the gift of God–not the result of works, so that no one may boast.”  Grace my friends is the unmerited action of God.  So, if it is by Grace we have been saved, then it is by the unmerited action of God we have been saved. That is something that has nothing to do with us finding it.  What we ought to be saying instead of “I found it” is “He claimed me.”
A woman in one of the churches I had the pleasure of serving named Fern Rainey one day said that she had been chasing her husband Ralph for about three and a half years until he found her.  It is the same with Christ.  He chases us until we find him, so it really isn’t us finding him at all.  He said, “You did not choose me, but I chose you.”
 
When Christ says, “You did not choose me, but I chose you,” it means that even before we knew to look for him, he was looking for us to do something to advance his kingdom.  God loves you and is looking for you because he wants to save the world. God wants to use you to do it.
He wants us to introduce the world to a more excellent way of life that is filled with honesty, integrity and dedication.  He says to his apostles and to us in this passage, “No greater love than this does anyone have, to lay down his life for his friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command you.”
The life of love for us is to live in a way that is more than we could ask.  The life that Jesus has chosen for us to live is different.  It bears fruit.  It is actively sowing and planting the word of the Lord.  It is actively building up and rejoicing over good things.  It is a life that is filled with dedication and commitment to others so that they feel loved.  In doing so, others are fulfilled or challenged to grow.
Now there was a teacher who had a room full of students.  She decided to put on a play.  The day came for casting the play.  There were all kinds of reactions from her students within themselves.  
     She had the obligatory “little superstar” who always wanted the leading role.  The little superstar eagerly took the part, any part in the play.  Then there was a little boy who wanted to be in the play, but he felt silly standing in front of all those people.  Then there was the resident tough guy who took the role and did it, but didn’t think that much should be made of it.  There was the child who just didn’t want to do it and took her part but then quit.  But no matter what the children did, the play went on with or without them.
When Jesus says, “You did not choose me, but I chose you,” he is picking the parts in his divine theatre.  He has a plan of salvation that unfolds like an epic drama filled with suspense and drama, laughter and sorrow, exhilaration and fear.  It is a plot that begins with creation, is followed by the re-creation of the world through Jesus’ laying down of his life for us.  It moves into the next act of Jesus’ call to action and our faithful response.  The divine drama ends in the Second Coming and the restoration of the universe forever and ever.
     In this divine drama, we all are assigned a part.  We are chosen by Jesus to go and bear fruit that lasts.   We are called upon to go forth and play the part that Jesus assigns us to do.  That is a sticky part.  
Some of us will welcome the idea because our lives were lost without direction before we realized that Christ chose us.  Then there are some of us who are glad that he chose us but aren’t really sure we feel comfortable doing what he wants us to do.  Then there are those who are miffed at the Lord that he chose them to do something and they do it, but do it kicking and screaming along the way.  Then there are those who reject the choice because they have their own agenda and Jesus cramps their style and self-autonomy.  No matter what reaction people have the truth is that the show must go on and it will go on with or without us.  The questions are, will we play our part and what part will we play?
When you respond to the call of Christ, his power is with you.  That power is to make a positive change in the world–a change that is positive for the kingdom of God.
     You must know that until recently, I was very active in Little League baseball.  While I was working in Gary, IN, I helped revitalize a Little League in the community.  A woman asked me one day, “How did you get people to give their time and their money to Little League?  We begged and begged and begged for years and nothing happened.  What are you doing?”  My response?  I said, “Prayer.”  But there is something else.
During the previous winter when I was thinking about heading up that mess called Little League I came home to Sandi with the idea.  She looked at me and said, “Please don’t tell me you feel called to do this.”  She knows that the one who responds with obedience must do what the Lord tells them to do.  That’s when I smiled and said, “Well, Honey, I think I am.”
With that calling to head up Little League came the power of God behind what we were doing.  How is it that I got things done?  It is because it was not me.  It was God at work in Gary, Indiana.  And “Why not Gary?” And why not where you are now?
     So, when I went to a game that season, I had to laugh in my heart for joy when I saw the stands packed with parents, grandparents and friends and neighbors who were laughing and enjoying each other.  It was God’s work my friends.  He called me to do it and gave me the power to produce fruit that remains.  I’m getting goose bumps just talking about it.
My friends, God always acts first in our lives. We are forced to react to God through our obedience or disobedience to what he is doing in our lives.  No matter how enlightened we become, it is God who is at work in the world through us, not we who are allowing God into our lives.
Jesus has chosen you.  It is a good thing.  It is a joyful thing.  Follow and do it.  You will be alright.  You will make it because there is power in being called.  What is it that God is calling you to do to make a positive change in the world around you?  You must respond because the Lord says, “You did not choose me, but I chose you.” Amen?  Amen.
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