by Jeff Ritchie
We have just finished another presidential election in the United States. This four-year cycle of American society dominates the news for close to two years until the new president is chosen and inaugurated. Then, after about two years, it starts again. What is the point of this exercise? Is it a game, an entertainment, the ultimate power play?
In our election fever we so easily forget that the purpose of getting elected is to govern well, to serve the people well. Unfortunately, forgetfulness of purpose is not limited to the political sphere. It also is found in the sphere of faith. Even the best of us forget why God calls us to be his children. Look at the original twelve apostles. In Mark 10 we hear some words that Jesus spoke to his disciples, words that we need to be reminded of over and over, lest we too forget why we have been chosen to be God’s people.
Two of Jesus’ closest disciples, John and James, approached him with a request, “Teacher, we want you to do whatever we ask of you.” Jesus replied, “What is it that you want?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.”
Faced with such a brazen request, Jesus rebuked them, “You do not know what you are asking for.”The other disciples were furious with James and John for such a blatant push for power. Jesus then gave his followers this teaching: “Whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant. . . . For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
In another passage, this time from John’s Gospel (chapter 15), Jesus tells the disciples, “You did not choose me; I chose you and appointed you that you should bear lasting fruit.” In the kingdom of God, we don’t “vote for Jesus.” Rather, Jesus “votes” for us, and he chooses us for a purpose. The election that matters in this life is our election for the service of God. As the Apostle Paul says in his letter to the Ephesians (chapter 2), “We are created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.”
The purposes for which God has chosen us and gifted us are many and varied. Yet they have one thing in common. They are how the Lord wants us to manifest his character and will for this earth. In October I spent two weeks in Korea, and I saw how this “election for service” is being lived out in the Korean Christians we met. These disciples of Jesus are gripped by a sense of mission. They know that God has chosen them to be his children, and their desire is first and foremost to serve him in a life worthy of their calling.
• We met a woman whose calling from God is to share with her people the beautiful side of Korean culture through a private museum featuring reconstructions of traditional Korean houses and furniture. Her calling is to display the beauty God intends for this world.
• We met a man whose calling has been to unearth the truth about a massacre of civilians that happened during the Korean War. It took decades for this believer to bring to light the story of what had happened in his home village, but he did it as his service to God and to the people of Korea. His calling is to manifest the truth God intends for this world.
• We met many whose calling is to honor the sacrifices made by missionaries who came to Korea 130 years ago to bring them the gospel. They are “paying it forward” by engaging in mission around the world among the “least, the last, and the lost.” Their calling is to reflect the goodness and mercy of God for all people.
Our group went away from Korea inspired by the inner passion of Korean Christians for God which in turn leads them to outer works of service in God’s name. We were challenged anew to carry out our calling to demonstrate in word and deed the good news of this good and true and beautiful God. This is our election. May we claim it as we pour out our lives for Jesus’ sake.
"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." (1 Peter 2:9)
Associate Director for Mission