I was looking at a world map the other day and suddenly something swept through my brain that I had never really thought of before. Do you know what I’m talking about when something suddenly hits you? It almost seems like your brain hurts for a second. It is a weird sensation. But as I looked at that map, I suddenly thought to myself, “Why in the world, of all the places in the world, was I born in the United States?” I mean, really. Why wasn’t I born in India or Kenya or Haiti, even?
I even took the question a little further: if I had not been born in the United States—indeed, if I had been born in China or the Congo, say—would I have ever become a Christian? It is a sobering question! And I must admit that, even though I really enjoy probing the mind of God as best I can (I really think that we sell ourselves short when it comes to understanding the heart and mind of God; there is more that we can know about Him than we think), this is one of those areas that I’m not sure I’ll ever understand—maybe even in heaven. In His divine providence, why does He have some people born in one place (and to certain parents), and others born in another place? It’s a mystery.
I do know one thing: it is not arbitrary. God never does things or allows them to happen for arbitrary reasons. There is always something going on. (Of course, the naturalist will come along and say that there is a purely “natural” explanation for why certain individuals were born in certain places. DNA and heredity has caused it to be thus. But this doesn’t really explain personality, per se.)
Now, I do not want to sound America-centric, but I feel extremely blessed to have been granted the privilege of being born in this country—and to live here. And that’s what baffles my mind. Why here instead of somewhere else—like Haiti?
I simply do not know. But what I do know is this: precisely because I was born in the most powerful and privileged nation in the world, I have an immense responsibility to the people in the other nations of the world! I have a high calling—as do you.
But what about those in the other parts of the world that have never heard the Gospel—and might die having never heard it? I take comfort in the words of the Psalmist when he writes, “The Lord will record, when He registers the peoples: ‘This one was born there’ ” (Psalm 87:6). In other words, when God judges every person, He takes into account where they were born, the circumstances that surrounded their lives, everything about them. He figures it all out.
And, while this verse should give us great comfort in relation to those who are born and live in an apparently-Christless existence, it should also give us great pause as well. Christ will also record where we were born and expect more of us. For, as Jesus said, “To whom much is given, from him much will be required” (Luke 12:48).
May we all take that charge seriously!