Friday, May 28, 2010

Are you Called or Chosen?

From time to time, I come across a scripture reference that was taken out of context when I was growing up. This morning I was reading in Matthew chapter 20, and came across verse 16. ( So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen. ) I was taught that this meant that just because someone claimed to be a Christian, doesn't mean they are unless they followed our particular formula for salvation.

As I was reading this, an idea began to form in my mind. The question was, what is the difference between CALLED and CHOSEN? What I found is mind-boggling. The Greek word for called is kletos. The emphasis of this word is that God is looking for someone. He has lost someone and is out in the night pleading and calling for them. The thought is that they are not returning an answer to him, yet he continues to call. My next question was who does this sound like in the Bible? Yes, I believe he is referring to the people of Israel. In fact, there are many references in the old testament of God calling to the Jewish people repeatedly and having them reject him.

The Greek word for chosen is eklektos (which is similar to the Greek word for church -ekklesia). I'm not familiar with the Greek language, so I can't say if this is significant or not. However, I do know that eklektos carries the connotation of "the highest calling" or "chosen by God to obtain salvation". This word indicates a positive response in the one who is called.

Now, back to the passage in Matthew 20. What is the context?

1For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.

2And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.

3And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace,

4And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way.

5Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise.

6And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?

7They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.

8So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first.

9And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.

10But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny.

11And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house,

12Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.

13But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?

14Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee.

15Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?

16So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.

After reading this, it seems clear to me that he is talking about the fact that God has called and called to the Israelites, but they refused him. He then "hired" us, the Gentiles, and gave us the same wage/reward. This being true, it has nothing to do with following a formula. Rather, it has to do with God calling and us responding to his free gift of salvation. If you have not truly given your heart and life to Jesus Christ, I urge you today to surrender to him and accept the free gift that he lavished on us through Jesus.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Is Change Possible?

In dealing with my issues in my marriage, I've had to face the fact that all of my marriage problems were NOT my husband's fault. It was a mixture of things that were a) his fault, b) my fault, and c) life happening to us. Part of my problem is the lack of appropriate boundaries in my life. I've been like a city without walls. People could just run in and out and trample over me and I would lay there and take it.

So how did I get that way? I didn't have terrible parents. They weren't perfect, but they did the best they could. I believe that the church environment I grew up in is the culprit. I learned at an early age that men were to be feared and women silent. Any woman who was outspoken was labeled "rebellious". Differing opinions weren't welcomed but, rather, strongly discouraged. My mom never had many friends by choice. She is just not the type that needs a lot of social connecting. I do. I've always felt guilty for wanting friends. The back-biting and back-stabbing that went on among "friends" was a crisis of epic proportions. It wasn't exactly a place where kids could learn healthy ways of confronting bad behavior. When you add to that the mindset that it was "us against the world", it is no wonder that so many people end up in bad marriages.

Not only does it set some women up to be the victim, but it is also the perfect breeding ground for controlling men. Thus, the cycle of abuse is set up by default. No one calls it abuse, just submission..

The question I've been asking myself is "Is change possible"? Is it possible for a weak, dominated woman to recover and start to stand up for herself without going to the other extreme and become a man-hater? Is it possible for a controlling man to stop lording over his wife with a superior attitude without becoming a sissy?

Society would say that change is only possible when both people are willing to change. Both have to be committed to changing. Sometimes it starts with one person, sometimes both. Usually, it starts with the wife. I would say that the only way to lasting change is for both people to totally commit themselves to the Lord and seek to learn his plan for marriage, not what they've learned from those around them.

This requires gut-wrenching work. Sometimes people aren't willing to do the hard work of learning new ways to react to stress.

I'm not sure which it will be in my case. I hope that God will restore my marriage. I'm praying God's will in all of this. The hard thing in this is that some friends will not understand. I feel bad that I may lose some friendships because they don't understand why I would want to work things out, if it's God's will. Some have said and done damaging things to my husband and it would be impossible for him to feel comfortable around them. I will leave that up to God.

My prayer is that I will continue to stand up for myself while still leaving room in my heart for the possibility that God may want to work it out in the long run.

I would appreciate the prayers for me and my husband. It's not easy for either of us to learn new ways of doing things that have been ingrained since childhood.