“For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:14)
I have had my own ideas about these challenging words uttered by Jesus, but never truly understood what they meant until this weekend.
On Saturday, I witnessed a singular, historic milestone in my church, Heart of God Church—the ordination of three senior leaders into the office of Pastor. In meaningful ceremony, Charleston Lim, Garrett Lee and Lynette Goh took their oath to become Pastor Charleston, Pastor Garrett and Pastor Lynette, for all the congregation to see. Where once we had our two Senior Pastors, we now have a five-strong team.
These are young leaders who grew up in church, once teenagers finding their way in this walk of faith, to now become the first fruits of a dream from decades ago. And as they were called, this was the moment that named them among the chosen few, formally stepping into roles long practiced and prepared for.
With every story shared, we saw how Pastor How and Pastor Lia passed down a spiritual heritage. And to see our Senior Pastors’ own long-held dreams turn into reality, in the fulfilment of these new pastors’ dreams—what an astounding and beautiful sight.
In a world where fleeting fame and self-centred success have become commonplace aspirations, disproportionately glorified in our age’s culture, what a rarity to celebrate dedication to a cause greater than the wisdom of man, greater than self. Faithfulness over flash. The constant over the instant.
One by one, well-deserved accolades and hard-earned credentials were brought to light. I was most struck by their influence in and ownership of our church. From my own few encounters with them, hearing them preach, or from stories told, I have seen the passion and humility with which they carry out every task. It was also in doing the mundane, the necessary, from the smallest to the biggest decisions, that made all the difference in Heart of God Church and the lives of individual people.
Here was no truer testimony of their faithfulness, of a proven calling, of real transformation from the moment they responded to that call, no matter the cost. How they put others before self, and God above all else. How their joy has been no more or less than the cause of Christ.
* * *
As we sang Kari Jobe’s “The Cause of Christ”, a particular line struck me:
“For my joy is this, oh the cause of Christ.”
Those words. For the joy. Coming into this year, I reflected on what had waned on my part in 2017. Amidst last year’s personal theme and exhortation of endurance was a clouded view of what this cause was for. Of what use was it to serve? For the joy.
“…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy that was set before Him, he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Yes, endurance is one side of the coin, that which keeps one standing firm in the waiting. But ultimately, it was the joy that Jesus looked toward, what spurred Him on His mission. And Christ’s joy of bringing salvation to the lost is what I—what all of us who believe—rejoice in today, being undeserving and yet wholly loved recipients of this grace. This is the same commission we carry today, to bring the love of God to all those who have yet to receive an invitation to Christ’s call.
* * *
How does one become numbered among the chosen few?
In a short but powerful preaching, Pastor How put it wisely with an equation that breaks down the journey from called to chosen.
CALLING = BURDEN + VISION + DESIRE + ACTION + ABILITIES + CHARACTER = CHOSEN
It all starts with a burden to meet a need, sparked by a vision of an ideal, fuelled by an actual desire to respond, followed through by an action, executed with honed abilities and grounded by character transformed through Christ.
As we move through each level, joyfully and willingly submitting to the process, Pastor How says, “we are chosen because of the choices we make.” And our new pastors have proven their calling, making not just a one-time decision, but daily choices to surrender all to Christ.
At any point in our lives, many of us have probably felt called to something, to a cause greater than ourselves, but in the end, came up short in the final count. I can only pray that God would make me worthy of the call. Oh, that many of us would take hold of this joy and belong to the chosen few.
* * *
Today, I rejoice with our church, for the significance of this event and what it represents—that there will indeed be generations of young people, pastors and leaders who will give their best years to God and the cause of Christ.
I thank God for Heart of God Church, where Pastors believe in using the church to build people, not the other way around. Where men and women not only stand in their specially-designed roles, but also as equal partners in Christ toward building His Kingdom.
I pray for our newly ordained pastors as they assume the office, knowing that this is only the beginning of the great work God will do through them and our church, with the best years still ahead.