I can still feel the fear and dread.
For most of my youth, I was the proverbial ninety pound weakling. I was the nerdy kid in tube socks. I was the one who tripped over his own two feet and always dropped the ball.
So when the time came to pick teams at recess for kickball, dodgeball or any other sport, my heart sank. It’s a bad feeling being the last one picked. You stand there nervously hoping and praying that one of the captains picks you before the girl standing in the corner eating her own boogers.
I still remember the relief and exhilaration of hearing my name called and excitedly running to join my teammates. I also, however, remember the heartbreak of hearing, “Well, I guess we get Andy then.”
School can be Darwinian. It’s survival of the fittest. You get picked if you are bigger, faster or stronger. You get picked if you are cool. You get picked if you can help your team win.
That’s not how God works.
In his letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul tells us, “[God the Father] chose us in [Jesus] before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless” (Ephesians 1:4).
God chose us.
Note, however, that he did not choose us because we were holy and blameless. He chose us to be holy and blameless.
God didn’t choose you because you were better, smarter or stronger. He didn’t choose you because you were cool. He didn’t choose you because of the good things you had done or would do.
He chose you in spite of the bad things you have done and will continue to do. He chose you in his amazing grace. He chose you “in Jesus.” Through faith in Jesus, you become holy and blameless. In Jesus, you are forgiven forever because he suffered your punishment in your place on the cross.
God picked me, the ninety pound weakling, and put me on Jesus’ team.
What’s more, he didn’t pick me last. He chose me before I was even born. He chose me before I was a twinkle in my mother’s eye. He chose me before the creation of the world.
Before time began God said, “I want Andy on my team.”
He then worked all of time and history to bring Jesus into the world to save me. He adopted and washed me in the waters of Holy Baptism. He sent parents and pastors to share with me the good news of his love and forgiveness. He has forgiven me all the times I’ve dropped the ball.
Through faith in Jesus, I have become holy and blameless in his sight.
And so have you. So if you find yourself worrying and wondering whether you have been good enough, whether God will accept you, whether you have what it takes to be on his team, read again Ephesians chapter one. God has already picked you and placed you on Jesus’ team.
You can’t lose.