This Sunday the 2015 Confirmation Class of Frenchtown Presbyterian — 8 smart, gifted, and insightful eighth graders — will publicly profess their faith in Jesus Christ and become active members of Christ’s church. They’re making their choice, a choice that has been building since their baptisms, a choice that has been nurtured through years of Christian education and formation, through songs and books and stories and prayers and retreats. In a sense, they’re making the biggest choice of their life.
But on the other hand, it’s not their choice at all and never has been. The lectionary gospel text for Sunday (John 15:9-17) includes this line spoken by Jesus to his disciples: “You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and appointed you to bear fruit.” Christ has chosen them, chosen us, chosen all. Christ’s choice comes first … but where does our choice fit in? It’s a riddle.
Two weeks ago in a session meeting, one of our elders led us in a leadership training exercise developed by the Center for Creative Leadership. It’s called Social Identity Mapping. First, you write down all your “givens,” things about you that just are. You’re probably born that way, who knows? But you can’t change it. Then, you write down all your “chosens,” things about your identity that are your choice. This is who you have decided to be. And then you write down your “core,” what aspects of your identity matter the most in your life.
Maybe the answer to the riddle is something like this… Belonging to Christ is a given, long before we even know how to close our eyes and pray. Then at some point, by God’s grace, belonging to Christ becomes a chosen. We profess our faith, even with loads of unanswered questions and doubts. And through years of this giving and choosing, we eventually see that belonging to Christ is at the core. .
The words of the old catechism become true: “What is your only comfort in life and in death? That I am not my own, but belong body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.”