One’s desire to be chosen hinges largely on the perceived reward or duty attached to it.
A playground selection of teams is a noisy affair with children jostling one another to be noticed and selected before others. A battlefield where great loss is occurring can be largely silent as teams are formed for impossible tasks, and infantrymen are jostling one another in an effort to avoid notice and eventual selection.
On more than one occasion in Deuteronomy, the Hebrew people are reminded that they are a chosen people, and the person choosing them is God himself (7:6, 14:2). Each time the pronouncement of them being chosen is prefaced by the phrase “you are a people holy to the Lord your God.” Too many over the centuries have mistakenly read into this passage that they were chosen for their inherent specialness, they were deserving of the honor, or the choice was a validation of their goodness. They were holy, but not because of their inherent sinlessness. Deuteronomy is filled with repeated litanies of Israel’s shortcomings and rebellious sin. Holiness in this sense is not about purity but about separation. These people were set apart for a task. The same theme is repeated throughout the Bible: We are blessed so that the ends of the earth may fear him (Psalm 67), Jesus tells his disciples that he chose them to bear fruit (John 15:16), and Paul realizes in Damascus he was chosen as God’s gospel conduit to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15).
We are chosen to be conduits of God’s grace to others. When God chooses us for a task, the emphasis should not be on whether we reap reward or suffer loss, but whether or not God receives the glory and his Gospel is proclaimed.