Watching the series “The Chosen” has been a game changer for me in many ways. Their skillful weaving of God’s choice of Israel with the entrance of their promised Messiah into the mess of humanity brings Scripture to life in a new way. For years I have read the Book mainly as a theology textbook and a prescription for morality, though it has frequently brought me to tears, put steel into my soul during trial and comforted me in sorrow. And it is an instruction manual, so to speak, but not just that. Much of what I came away with was valid but missing some of the exquisite and expansive tapestry threads connecting the human and the divine. The flawless timing of God’s interactions with both nations and individuals – not just to promote His kingdom but to demonstrate care – is breathtaking. His tender extravagant kindness targeted toward the individual personality shatters the image of the harsh judge waiting for me to make a mistake that He can punish.
It is stunning is to actually get a visual of the One Who created the universe, this world, and human beings actually hanging out with and putting up with obtuse, fearful, obstinate creatures exactly like ourselves. Some of us identify as an impulsive yet courageous Peter, loyal and devout Andrew, devoted John, honest thoughtful Bartholomew, “doubting” Thomas, Simon the political zealot, or pragmatic enterprising Matthew. Hopefully none of us is like conniving greedy Judas. Jesus’ choice of such ordinary commonplace people went from my head to my heart as the video brought the stories I had so often read about come to life with dramatic flair. The friction, the conflict, the pettiness, the rivalry and animosity were all overcome (more or less) by their common experience of being touched intimately by the Master. It took a lot of working out, retraining, mistakes and forgiveness. Patching them into a cohesive unit that turned the world upside down would be a frustrating undertaking to say the least. I marvel at Jesus’ patience and willingness to teach, reteach, be misunderstood and misrepresented. It is incomprehensible that this would be the way of an omnipotent God. And if anything, it is probably worse for Him now as the church fumbles and stumbles with some of the same problems, egos and misguided ideas of how Jesus should direct His affairs. How amazing that He is not ashamed to call us brothers!!
My religious nature puts the characters God used to tell His story on a different plane, even though it is abundantly clear that they were as flawed human beings as could be. Perhaps I elevate them partly because of my religious upbringing where haloes marked Jesus and his followers. More likely it is a subconscious choice so I can escape the possibility of being expected to do great things for God like they did. In fact, a dread came over my heart one episode as the character said, “Well, I am going to bed.” Such a mundane common act for one who walked with Jesus, saw Him heal countless people, perform numerous miracles, and teach as no other man ever had. That means my common life and mundane experience cannot nullify His calling. Doubt, fears, and unbelief must be resisted so as to embrace His purpose for me. The path of proclamation was theirs and is now ours. They had the benefit of a Jesus who shared their culture, language and lifestyle. We have the advantage of a written birds-eye view of His story, as well as the prophetic and devotional writings of others who came before to point the way to Him. These journalers were unknown to historians but included in God’s written chronicles – men and women of whom the ‘world was not worthy’. They, like us in many ways, endured the world’s ridicule and censure. Unlike us, they longed to see what we see. They had only a partial story. If we reduce this amazing revelation of Jesus’ contact with humanity to mere religion we miss the point entirely.
God’s book is a love letter above all else, a gilded invitation to a coming kingdom where love reigns – and only His lovers will respond in the affirmative. Do we love Him enough to overlook the missteps and mistakes of others who are also pursuing His kingdom, though differently than we are? Are we passionate enough to invite the lost into His kingdom? Are we willing to suffer to learn the ways of His kingdom? We can only do these things if we cherish the love of the King. He has chosen us! The question is, will we choose Him?