Christians in every place and time have a cultural blind spot. We accept some things without question because they are so integrated into our lives, even though they may not be Biblical. I think the concept of freedom is one of those blind spots for American Christians. We expect to have a voice in every decision that affects us. We expect to have the freedom to choose.
There’s a strange dynamic around choice in this passage. God chose and the people chose. Each got what they chose, but there was an order to it. First God chose, then the people chose.
God chose the Jews to be a light to the Gentiles. The Jews chose to reject the message. But they were still a light to the Gentiles. They got what they wanted (or rather didn’t get what they didn’t want), but that didn’t cancel God’s will.
God chose for some Gentiles to believe. The Gentiles chose to accept the message gladly and thankfully. They got what they wanted which was what God wanted.
In both cases, God’s will was accomplished. In both cases, the people chose.
At this point I could write about freewill vs. God’s sovereignty, but I’m certainly not qualified to say anything profound about that. It’s more useful to think about the choices I make and whether they please God.
I know I don’t always make choices that please Him. When I don’t, I’m rejecting Him and what He offers me. I’m like the Jews who were jealous of Paul and wanted the praise he was getting. I want to be front and center. Even so, He has still chosen me and He still uses me for His purposes.
When I do choose Him and all He offers me, it’s because He has chosen me. My response is thankfulness that He has chosen me to receive salvation. All I do should be done with humble gratitude.
God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. 1 John 4: 9-10 (NLT)