For so the Lord has commanded us, saying,
“‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles,
that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”
 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.
Here in America, in the land of the free and the home of the brave, as the national anthem says, we have a lot of things that we take for granted. Things that we assume are rights that all people everywhere have. Possessions and comforts that we see as necessities versus conveniences.
We have electricity to light up, heat, and cool our homes. We have automobiles to get from point A to point B. Supermarkets in which to buy food so we don’t have to grow or farm it ourselves. Phones that allow us to message or call anyone or anywhere we want. Access to medicine to help cure or prevent thousands and diseases and illnesses. And computers which allow us to learn and enjoy almost anything we could imagine.
Yep. We are living the good life.
Often, however, we forget that there were many people throughout our nations history who had to pay a price in order to get us here. We forget the many lives that were lost in multiple wars to protect the freedoms that we have. The many innovators and workers who worked tirelessly to produce a better infrastructure for this country. We forget the many people who didn’t have it good and worked so that their children and their children’s children could have a better life.
And in so doing, we lose the gratitude, wonder, and amazement of the great blessings we have received, and we treat them as rights that we deserve.
This is also true when it comes to the life that we affectionately call the Christian life. The eternal and forever life that has been bestowed upon us by God through the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. We as Christians become like the Jews in John 8:39 who said:
“Abraham is our Father.”
They were convinced that they were God’s children based on their heritage, which meant that somehow they deserved to be his people. It was their right as God’s chosen people by birth. But then something happened. God took the message of Christ, which many Jews rejected, and sent Paul and Barnabas to the gentiles. Why? As it says:
“‘…that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”
God’s plan was to send his message of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone to the ends of the earth so that all the nations and peoples of the world would be blessed. But the Jews missed this, and in so doing missed the truth that being a child of God was and is a free gift.
You can’t earn it. You can’t buy it. It isn’t a right. And you don’t deserve it.
In fact, no one deserves it which is why the apostle Paul writes in Romans 3:23
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”
Every single person, whether Jew or Gentile, has fallen short of God’s perfect standard. And we all deserve his wrath and eternal punishment in hell. But praise be to God that through his son Jesus Christ he would choose to save and redeem a people for himself from all nations and people groups under the sun. However, the gentiles in Acts 13 understood this was which is why it says in verse 48:
“And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.”
They knew that this gift of salvation was a free gift of God that was being given to them. It was a privilege and gift, not a right.
For many of us, who probably grew up in some sort of faith tradition, there is a lesson for us to take away from this. It is easy for many of us to look at our faith, and really most of our lives, as rights. Especially here in America. We think we deserve all that we have as if somehow it is a birthright. This includes our faith.
But we need to remember that our faith is a free gift of God. We didn’t earn it. And we need to daily stand in awe of the God who, through his son Jesus Christ, miraculously and wondrously choose to bring us from death to life. Who chose to make us his sons and daughters. And who chose to appoint us to eternal life.
So, yes, you are a son or a daughter of the living God. You are a Christian. But that reality is not something you deserve, its not something you are born into, and its not something you earn. It’s God’s free gift. And we should not only cherish that reality and stand in awe of our great God, but we should daily submit to him in reverence, worship, and obedience as we get to joyously do his will until he returns. Amen.