Life Sunday #1 – 2022 LSB #’s 735, 573, 922
Text – John 15:16
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.
God Chose You!
Life is filled with so many choices! Depending upon where you live in the world, you may have a greater volume & variety of choices than others. In America, we have choices that people, especially in third-world countries, cannot even imagine. From the moment the alarm rings in the morning until our head hits the pillow at night; our days are filled with choices.
Will I get up or hit snooze on the alarm? Will I have breakfast or not? What will I wear? What will I do? If I leave home, will I do homework or yardwork or housework when I get back? Will I use an app to have dinner delivered or will I dine out or fix dinner at home? Will I watch TV or read a book or go out? Will I go to bed early or late? So many choices!
Listening to this sermon, the choices in that list may seem insignificant. Not all choices are. Many of the things we choose can have life-changing consequences for us & for others; especially if we fail in allowing God to guide our choices.
Does a time come to mind when you regretted a choice you made after you saw how selfish & damaging that choice was? If we’re honest with ourselves, we have all been there & done that. We, & others, have the physical or emotional scars to prove it. We are in company with the rest of humanity, going all the way back to the 1st human being created by God.
“The Lord God took the man & put him in the Garden of Eden to work it & keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good & evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die’” (Genesis 2:15-17 ESV). The Lord gave Adam & Eve a multitude of choices in the Garden of Eden. They could eat from a wide variety of trees, yet God made their choices simple. Just avoid eating from one tree, the tree of the knowledge of good & evil. Make your choice in line with God’s will, & you will live. Make your choice outside of God’s will, & you will die. The choice was simple until Satan slithered into the garden.
Sadly, Adam & Eve chose to listen to Satan’s voice instead of God’s. By choosing not to follow the design of their Creator, they chose the way of sin & death. Their sin-corrupted DNA has passed on to each one of us.
The choice for Adam & Eve was simple. They had only one tree to avoid. Our choices don’t often seem as uncomplicated, do they? In our time & culture, we are bombarded with countless choices. The sheer volume can be overwhelming & the Covid pandemic exacerbated all of it. More & more of our choices are coming with significant consequences.
Add to that the choices confronting us because technology & science can race ahead with life-altering choices before our culture even considers the potential consequences they have on us & others. Just because we are able to choose something does not mean we should choose to do so, especially before we know the consequence of that choice.
Like Adam & Eve, we often find ourselves playing god, thinking we know better than our Creator what to do with our lives & with the lives of others. We make wrong choices because we’re guided by convenience & comfort & control instead of by the conviction that God is in control & His Word offers the courage & clarity we need to make right choices.
Wrong choices come back to bite us, just like they did with Adam & Eve. Thankfully, the God who chose to create us chose not to let us die in our sin. He chose instead to redeem us so we could be reconciled to our Creator. God came looking for Adam & Eve in their garden of sin, death & despair. He gave them hope when He said to the serpent Satan: “I will put enmity between you & the woman, & between your offspring & hers; he will crush your head, & you will strike his heel” (Genesis 3:15 NIV). For all the times our life choices have crushed us with guilt & shame & regret, God chose to send His Son to crush Satan & to be our Savior!
The God who chose to give us life at the moment of fertilization is the same God who chose to rescue us & redeem us for eternal salvation. He did that by sending His Son, Jesus, to experience every stage of human life so we could be forgiven & receive life everlasting with Him! Every stage of human life truly is life.
Jesus could have chosen to remain in the comfort & glory of heaven, leaving us to deal with the consequences of our choices. And who could blame Him for choosing to do that? Yet, because of His love & compassion for His creation, Jesus chose to become one of us so He could provide salvation for all of us.
Jesus chose to be conceived by the Holy Spirit, to be born of the Virgin Mary, to suffer under Pontius Pilate, to be crucified, to die & to be buried … for us. Three days later, Jesus chose to rise from the dead … for us. Jesus chose to rescue us & restore us so we could be God’s forgiven children & heirs of life everlasting in the new heavens & new earth.
Aren’t you thankful that Jesus chose to do this for you & me & the world?! “You did not choose me, but I chose you & appointed you that you should go & bear fruit” (John 15:16).
In love & grace, God chose you before the creation of the world to be His child. In Baptism, we were claimed by God the Father to be His children, we were connected to the saving work of His Son, & we were converted into temples of the Holy Spirit.
The God who created us & redeemed us, who lives in us, has put His seal of ownership on each one of His precious children! He has chosen you & appointed you for a purpose – to live as Jesus’ disciples by bearing fruit for His kingdom. By God’s grace, & by His power, we will bear good fruit & make God-pleasing choices that glorify our Lord & Savior who chose to create us & to save us! In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Lord, ’tis not that I did choose Thee; that, I know, could never be; for this heart would still refuse Thee had Thy grace not chosen me. Thou hast from the sin that stained me washed & cleansed & set me free & unto this end ordained me, that I ever live to Thee. It was grace in Christ that called me, taught my darkened heart & mind; else the world had yet enthralled me, to Thy heavenly glories blind. Now I worship none above Thee; for Thy grace alone I thirst, knowing well that, if I love Thee, Thou, O Lord, didst love me first. Amen. LSB 573:1-2.
Pastor Dean R. Poellet