Called and Chosen

Therefore, brothers, try even harder to make your being called and chosen a certainty. For if you keep doing this, you will never stumble. (2 Pet 1:10 CJB)

Called and chosen, or better from the Greek: invited and selected. In another verse it says:

Many are called [or invited], but few are chosen [or selected]. (Mat 22:14 KJV)

When I read this, a few questions arise:

  • why are there two words – called and chosen?
  • do we have to work out both, as Peter suggests, or are we predestined to be called and/or chosen, as a casual reading of Mat 22:14 would imply?
  • if we are predestined, what about our free will?
  • if we are predestined, why not just let everything happen – it doesn’t matter anyhow what we do.

Not long ago I was priviledged to sit under one of my spiritual fathers and hear a teaching on being chosen and nothing being able to prevent me making it, reaching my calling but maybe myself. He stated that God knows the end from the beginning, he knows everything that will happen and has planned for it before the foundation of the earth.

A well known principle – foresight or prevision instead of predestination. But really not easy to grasp. Let me have a go at it.

I am a programmer and especially interested in artificial intelligence. I worked with rule systems, neural networks, and genetic programming. For our reasoning here the last is very interesting. Let me explain.

Genetic algorithms are programs that live in an enclosing program, an environment, a world you might call it. They have a string of commands that govern their actions. Let’s say, they have to find and follow a certain path. Each character in the string will tell them to go straight, left, right, backwards, stop, start, or turn. Now let’s say that we take a couple thousand of such little programs – you might well see them as little virtual ants – with different command strings, and some succeed more than others following the path further down. We now create new ants by cutting the command strings at an arbitrary point and combining a “fathers” and a “mothers” partial command string – just like it happens in biology with DNS. We might even through in some mutation and at a small rate change some command by chance. We do this with the best ants we have, through in some of the bad ones just for fun (not really, but this would be to complicated to explain here), copy them to have a new full population and start the next round.

The command strings formed based on chance – where to cut, who are the parents, what gets mutated – are not predictable and can fully be decided by the system inherently. I only provided the methods. Free will, if you will. Or at least a good simulation of it.

If you think evolution now, you are mostly correct. Hey, this is supposed to be a Christian blog, why are you bringing up this evil concept? Well, first of all, it is more like intelligent design, as I as a programmer design the world, the rules, the goals, and the methods, as well as the philosophy of what I call life in my world. And then – this is my world, so I am doing what I want. Just bear with me.

Let’s have a look at the world itself the ants are living in: as you can derive from the command set specified above it is a two dimensional world with paths. Imaging a piece of paper with handwriting on it, and the ants that follow a B shaped path will recognice all B’s for me – just to give you a picture of a real world application. But back to the world: it does have a notion of time. The computer clock rate, today at a frequency of let’s say 2 GHertz. 2 billion clicks a second. It is easy to see that this time, even if connected with our time we experience, is different. A generation in my world is defined by one cicle of problem solving: let the ants run, evaluate the results, and let them reproduce.

What do we have now? A world with ants on a mission that reproduce and live in a time different than ours. Now let’s do some magic:

Let me introduce a slider which allows me to inspect any point of time within the world at wish. I can slide backwards into history or fast forward into the future in this world. Just like a time line you know from school or modern Apple operating systems. Suddenly the time in this world, though unidirectional for the ants (they can’t go back in time), becomes a normal dimension for me as the observer. I can go back and forth and look at it from different angels just like I can with length, breadth and depth in our universe. Their time just became totally disconnected from my time. And I therefore know the future of any given ant. I can both prophesy to it if I so choose and provide a way to do so, and know the end result as well as all the decision on the way of its life.

Back to us and God. God is outside of time. So what I just found to be true for me and my ants holds true for Him and me.

God outside of time knows my future and my past. He knows whatever decision I am going to make out of my free will and the destiny I am going to reach. He knew before the foundation of the earth.

Christ died for all of us. All have been invited to live a life with God. God knows how we will decide, and whether we select or choose the right way. All have been called by Christ, but few have been chosen by themselves at the end.

Therefore, brothers, try even harder to make your being called and chosen a certainty. For if you keep doing this, you will never stumble. (2 Pet 1:10 CJB)

Peter admonishes us to make sure we are both: called and chosen.