by Martin Luther
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. (John 15:16 ESV)
A fierce battle has been raging in this world since the very beginning. Cain wanted to choose God on his own terms. He wanted God to value his work and his offering instead of his brother’s. The world has followed Cain’s example from that day until now. The world always wants to turn this verse in John around and say, “I don’t want to be chosen by God; I want to choose him first.” But God cannot and will not tolerate this. He turns their words back around and says, “You cannot and should not choose me. I must choose you.” That’s why throughout Scripture God condemns and throws away this type of choosing that goes against what he commands.
Even Paul condemns this vice. He says, “Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you” (Colossians 2:18). Likewise, he says, “Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatments of the body, but they lack any value” (v23). With these words, he describes those who practice useless, self-chosen worship and justify it by saying, “I mean well and am doing it for God and to honor him. It will please him, and so he will be merciful to me.” These people are twice as bad as God’s enemies. God called the Israelites out of Egypt and gave them the Ten Commandments, telling them what they should and shouldn’t do so that they wouldn’t invent ways to serve him. In the same way, God wants to tell us what it means to serve him.