“God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: 'Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.'” 1 Corinthians 1:28-31 NIV
What the apostle Paul says here goes along beautifully with what Jesus himself told Nicodemus in John 3:3: "No one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again." In the case of Nicodemus, he was confused because most Jews of his day—like many Americans of our day—believed that all people have the ability and the personal responsibility to choose to love and obey God.
The Jews thought of themselves as having free will in spiritual matters. Just like anyone could choose to reject shoes and walk barefoot or embrace shoes and wear sandals, they could choose to reject God or trust in him.
Paul, a Jew himself, had once believed that too. But his beliefs had changed. He now recognizes the blindness sin brings and knows faith is purely God’s gift. We don’t choose God. God chooses us.
Is that a little bit troubling? Does it sound like you are not in control?
Well, the truth is, you never were. The first two words in the passage above are, "God chose." Faith is a gift. It comes from the Holy Spirit. It is given as he wills. And it given through the teaching of the word and the administration of the sacraments. It's all grace.
And its grace that God wants you to experience. To Timothy, Paul writes, "This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth." 1 Timothy 2:3-4, NIV.