Confidence and Humility
"And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him." (Mark 3:13)
There are some things about the calling of the apostles that are unique and unrepeatable. Jesus calls these specific men to extend His mission, and He gives them both power to heal and cast out demons. Later in the New Testament, the church refers to many disciples but the office of apostle is restricted to a few. They are eyewitnesses of Jesus' ministry, this was a non-negotiable in choosing a twelfth apostle to replace Judas (cf. Acts 1). And this is Paul's claim to apostleship, that he has seen the resurrected Jesus on the Damascus Road. The apostles then are unique, and called the foundation of the church (Ephesians 2:20).
And yet, there are some things about the calling of the apostles that apply to all disciples of Christ (all those who follow Him). One of these is the notion that we are chosen by grace. This is evident of the apostles in Mark 3:13, and again in John 15:6. This was the way God worked with Israel as well. Deuteronomy 7:7-8 reads "It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you..." As one theologian has said, "we are a chosen people, not a choice people."
I wonder if this truth has sunk in for us. Or do we still believe somewhere deep down that we have somehow merited God's love?
If we do believe this, then we ought to be a very humble people. There's no boasting in ourselves, and we ought to be able to freely admit our mistakes and sins. We even ought to be able to admit that there are many ways we are worse (morally, ethically, intellectually) than even non-believing friends and neighbors. This should be easy to admit, if we really believe we are chosen by sheer grace.
And yet, if we believe this, we also ought to be supremely confident. If our performance (or aptitude) doesn't earn us God's love, then it won't be our performance that will keep us in His love either. God's love for us is not conditioned on our successes and failures. And thus, we can live lives of risk, and confidence, and boldness.
Confidence and humility - two of the most attractive qualities we can dream to have. And yet, in the world they are typically thought of as mutually exclusive. You are either confident, or humble. But the gospel produces both - at the same time! The gospel tells us we have no reason to be proud and yet every reason to be secure.