Doing and Reflecting
This is a fun trick to illustrate how we may think that we have chosen God, but in fact, he chose us. (Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. Eph 1:4 NLT)
Suitable for All Age Worship, Messy Church, holiday club, collective worship on ‘feeling special’ or ‘having a purpose’, or a great discussion-starter in a youth group. Or even, you know, adults – we need to feel that we are wanted, too.
To prepare for this trick write a large 9 on a piece of A4 card and put it in an envelope. Write CHOSEN on the outside. As you start the script below, put the envelope in a prominent place.
You can use a whiteboard to write the numbers on if you like, or you can have folks do their own version in little groups – it works well in family groups around tables – they’ll be amazed that they all end up with 9!
Tailor the length of the initial number to your audience – I have used a four-digit number, but you could use any length. I’ve given an example down the side so that you can see how it works Obviously, substitute my example with whatever number your people choose.
I have got a brilliant trick to show you, and for my trick I need a random number.
Now, I’m not just going to ask you for a number, because pretty much everyone picks 7 or 3 and it’s not very random. Instead I’m going to ask you to help me with a Random Number Generator. I need you to add up some small numbers. Can you help me with that? Great.
It’s nothing too difficult, we just need to add up the digits in a number.
So if we have 41, we add 4 plus 1 and get … 5, that’s right.
41 4 + 1 = 5
And if we have 123 we add 1 plus 2 plus 3 and get … 6. Great!
123 1 + 2 + 3 = 6
Now we’ve got the hang of what to do, lets start the Random Number Generator.
[get volunteer to write numbers on white board if required]
To start with, I need a big number. It can have three digits or four, or more if you like … 8256? [any number will do]
Thanks, now we’ll add up the digits like we did before. 8 plus 2 plus 5 plus 6 … that’s 21.
8 + 2 + 5 + 6 = 21
Now we add up the digits again. 2 plus 1 makes … 3.
2 + 1 = 3
Great! Now just to make sure that you have got a really random number, let’s take this random number off our original random number, and get a doubly random number!
So let’s take 3 off our original number, that’s 8253, and here we go, choosing a totally random number.
8256 – 3 = 8253
Add up the digits and we get … 18
8 + 2 + 5 + 3 = 18
Add up the digits and we get … 9!
1 + 8 = 9
[omit if not using groups]
Now, groups on tables, if you have done your own Random Number Generator, keep your answers to yourself for a moment, we’ll concentrate on this one for a minute.
So your random number is 9? Yes.
Chosen by you? Yes.
Is there any way that I could possibly have known what big number you would start with? No.
Is there any way that I could have chosen your numbers for you? No.
So, completely your choice? Yes.
Sometime we can think that we choose God like we chose those numbers. We can choose God or not, like we might choose a pizza at a supermarket. “Shall I have pepperoni today? Shall I have sardine and cucumber? Maybe. Maybe not.”
But it’s not like that with God. God is not a pizza that we can choose or not choose. And it’s not actually us who do the choosing. In the Bible it says “Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.” (Eph 1:4) and “You did not choose me, but I chose you.” (John 15:16)
Wow! That’s amazing! Now, being ‘holy and without fault’ doesn’t mean that we have to try to be all goody-goody and perfect so that God will choose us – he already chose us, because he loves us and HE is going to do the fixing up that we all need.
So you don’t need to choose God – God has already chosen you. Why? Because you’re ‘holy and without fault’? No. None of us are. He chose you, he chose me, before the world was ever made, simply because he loves you. And why does he love you? Just because he’s nice like that.
So that number you chose. You still think you chose it? [open envelope]
Nope, it was chosen before you even started. You were chosen, you were loved, before the world was ever made.
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John 15:9-17 New International Version
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.
New International Version (NIV)
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