6For you are a people holy to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on earth to be his people, his treasured possession.
7It was not because you were more numerous than any other people that the LORD set his heart on you and chose you — for you were the fewest of all peoples. 8It was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath that he swore to your ancestors, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. 9Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who maintains covenant loyalty with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, 10and who repays in their own person those who reject him. He does not delay but repays in their own person those who reject him. 11Therefore, observe diligently the commandment — the statutes, and the ordinances — that I am commanding you today.
The great mystery of divine election is that we don't really know why God chose Israel to be His People and why God chose us, the Church, to be His New Covenant People. We cannot point to any human feature or characteristic that would persuade God to choose Israel or us over against another group of people. In the Deuteronomy passage above, one possibility is considered (i.e., the size of Israel's population) but then this possibility is rejected because in actual fact, Israel was small in number, in comparison to other nations. The only true reason is "because the Lord loved you." But why did God love Israel? Was it some trait that Israel possessed? Did Israel have some special characteristic or virtue that should catch God's attention? We are not told the Why of God's Love. God loved Israel. God called Abram. God chose Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We cannot peer behind the curtain, so to speak, to see the inner workings of God's love in electing Israel. We must be content with God's sovereign election.
When we get to the New Testament, a similar curiosity is stirred up by the believers in Corinth. There's a general feeling that God must have chosen the Corinthian believers because of some virtue or strength, like wisdom or influence. The Apostle Paul is quick to disabuse them of any such notion. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:26-31:
26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”
Paul puts the Corinthian believers in place. If there is a reason for God's election, it must be the reason that they were foolish, weak, lowly, or despised. Ouch! Why? So that the only kind of boasting the Corinthian believers might exercise is the boasting in the Lord and not in themselves!
If it is unclear why God chooses whomever He chooses, it is nevertheless very clear for what reason we are so chosen. The Apostle Peter writes in 1 Peter 2:9-10,
9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
What's clear is that we glorify God by declaring God's nature and His saving acts, especially of rescuing us from darkness and setting us free in God's wonderful light. We might not know why God chose us. But we do know what we, the chosen, are called to do.
Let's pray: Father God, we thank you for choosing us in Christ to declare the praises of you who called us out of darkness and into your wonderful light. We confess that we do not know why you chose us, save that you loved us and in your love that you are committed to us. We confess that your love for us truly humbles us, knowing that we are neither the wise, the strong, nor the important things of the world. We are, rather, the opposites. But because you love us and see to it that we are called to glorify you, we happily declare that we feel loved and set apart for your good pleasure and special purpose. In Jesus' Name, Amen.