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Acts 16:1-10; John 15:18-21

John’s gospel for today seems rather depressing, certainly not very inviting. We are being told that the world will hate us and that we will be persecuted because God has chosen us. It reminds me of our kids chiding each other with, “Doesn’t that make you feel special?” when one was asked to do something that no one really wanted to do. I am sitting here sort of like the kids and wondering, do I really want to be the special one to be chosen by God especially if hatred and persecution are the result?

I feel guilty for not wanting to be special enough to be chosen by God, for not wanting to experience hatred and persecution in his name. But then I think of the good company that I am in, the disciples did not go looking to demonstrate how special they were; they quickly dispersed from the garden of Gethsemane when the crowd came for Jesus. Peter denied his special calling three times. And even Jesus asked his Father to let him avoid the persecution he was about to face. I do not think there is an expectation from Jesus for the disciples or for us to look forward to hatred and persecution in his name He is warning the disciples things are going to get really tough for them. I think he is telling all of us that it will not always be easy to follow in his steps.

Personally, I have never had a threat of physical persecution on a personal level. So where is it so difficult for me to be special? It is in following God’s lead in my every day life. It is in truly listening to his call because I am afraid of what he may ask of me.

In earlier passages of the gospel, Jesus has already told his disciples (and you and me) that His love is ours forever. So yes, it is SPECIAL to be chosen by God because his Son has promised us that as long as we are true to him, he will be with us even, or especially, when it is the most difficult. If I am afraid of what he might ask of me it is hard to be open to his presence, but it is precisely then when his presence is the most meaningful.

The psalm reminds us of how SPECIAL we really are: “Know that the LORD is God; he made us, his we are; his people, the flock he tends.” There is really nothing more SPECIAL than to be chosen by God, to know that he is always with me.

By Susane Tinley

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