I stopped outside of Rio de Janeiro to ask directions from a local citizen, a senior citizen like myself. Seeing I was touring on a bicycle, he gave me directions, and then in perfect English, a caution: “Be careful,” he said, “because Brazilian drivers are like God. They are no respecters of persons.”
I enjoyed the moment, and although his Biblical reference was somewhat out of context, it put a smile on my face as I continued my ride.
Of course, the real meaning of Peter’s statement in Acts 10, verse 34, had nothing to do with dangerous Brazilian drivers. It referred to the divine fairness of God.
Peter, the principle Apostle of the Church established by Jesus Christ, was instructed in a vision to take the gospel of Christ to the Gentiles, where, until that time, it had been preached only to the Jews.
“While Peter thought on the vision,” the Spirit sent him on a mission that would bring him in contact with a Gentile named Cornelius, who was inspired to receive Peter and the gospel of Christ.
Understanding the vision he had received, Peter declared, “Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons; But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.”
Then Peter taught “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth” and told of the good and miraculous works Jesus had done, and testified “we are witnesses of all things which he did” and how “Him God raised up the third day ... unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead” (verses 38-42).
On that day, the record states, “on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost,” and many who were not Jewish were received in baptism in the name of the resurrected Lord.
The same fairness of God was taught by prophets in ancient America as recorded in the Book of Mormon, such as Nephi, who declared, “(the Lord) ... inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile” (2 Nephi 26:33).
God, our Heavenly Father, is no respecter of persons, and certainly He desires to bless all of his children — all persons. He so loved the world that He sent his only Begotten Son to be the Redeemer of all.
His capacity to bless us, however, is limited by our obedience to the commandments he has given us in love.
“The beauty of the gospel of Jesus Christ,” said George Albert Smith, former President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “is that it makes us all equal in as far as we keep the commandments of the Lord.”
It was said of Joseph Smith, the prophet through whom the Lord restored His church, that he was so full of the Spirit of God that people could not help but feel his love, as well as God’s. He demonstrated, as did the Savior, that he could not withhold that love from anyone, including those who would count themselves his enemies. Love is the defining characteristic of a servant of God.
If we are followers of Jesus Christ, we should love as the Lord loved and see as the Lord saw: each man, woman and child, a son or daughter of God — our brother or sister. In fairness we, too, should be “no respecters of persons,” as we press forward with a love of God and of all men.On Faith columnist Alfred Gunn, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at Gig Harbor, can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit www.mormon.org.