We live in a culture where we have so much choice in almost everything. We choose what to eat, a blessing so many people in the world don't have. We choose our school, our job (to a certain extent anyway), our church (lots of church hoppers and shoppers out there), our clothes (some make better choices than others my kids tell me), and how we spend our time among all our other choices. Is it any wonder then that a lot of believers want to believe that they have chosen to believe and accept God rather than believing that God chose us before we chose him, something the church calls 'election.'
It's about control; who is really in control of your life? In a culture as individualistic as ours, being our own boss, being in control over our own lives is important to many people. Few people like being a follower and accept that others can tell us what to do. When I talk to human resource managers or small business owners, they all say similar things, no one wants to start at the bottom anymore under other people, everyone believes they are smarter and better than everyone else and should be the one in charge, or at the very least, second in charge, but only for a short time.
But when it comes to our relationship with God, I'm glad it doesn't rely on my having chosen God first because otherwise there would be no relationship with God; I know my own heart and tendencies! I love how Paul puts it in Ephesians 1 "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves." God chose us because he loves us and this love means that he not only chooses us to be his followers and people, but he chooses us to be his daughters and sons; members of his family.
If you believe that you chose God first and that he chose you only because he knew you were going to choose him, you over-estimate yourself. You also take the grace out of salvation because now you are taking credit for choosing God rather than accepting the amazing grace and love God has for you even though you're still a sinner who consistently chooses to do your own thing instead of submitting yourself completely to God's will.
There's amazing comfort in knowing God chose me even though I'm a mess-up because I know I'll stay chosen. If my relationship with God began with me, I could also un-choose him, something like many people do today with their churches and with God. I can admit my sins, confessing and repenting, but never having to fear that God will get fed-up with me. It allows me to sleep well at night knowing I'm completely in God's hands and nothing, especially myself, can knock me out of them. Praise the Lord!