Acts 10:34-35 begins an address from Peter, “I now understand that God does not play favorites, but that whoever fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him, no matter what people he belongs to.” (The Complete Jewish Bible) While I sat in church pews for many years I heard this referenced time and again; God sees all as equals; no man better than another. God sees all as spirit beings, extensions of Divine Energy. Mankind has not followed suit, categorizing others by profession, wealth, possessions, or their lack.
It would appear there has always been a hierarchy of position. Someone has to be in charge, right? While I agree in theory there needs to be someone in charge, a hierarchy of sorts, someone to make the final decision, and other someones to carry out the decisions, I believe mankind is lousy at maintaining a hierarchy without being a respecter of persons at the same time. In Acts, Peter’s statement that God is not a respecter of persons was an attempt to unite all people under the umbrella of Christianity following the death and resurrection of Jesus. Valiant as it may be, the attempt did not work, and to this day mankind remains divided on almost every front, and people continue to be respecters of persons.
I have worked in several environments over the years, and some were more successful than others at maintaining a hierarchy without demeaning others to demonstrate their control. The ego is really at the heart of anyone being a respecter of persons. The fragile egos of many demand respect from others but are reluctant to respect others or their positions in return. The ego is the seat of man’s fear; fear of not being in control, fear of not being respected. Dictatorships exist because of one person or group’s need to control others and demand respect from the masses. Dictatorships exist in all areas of life; countries, cities, businesses, and families.
Lately, I have thought a great deal about the fact that we need one another and therefore need to appreciate all as extensions of Divine Source, of God. There are place and purpose for all in the universe, yet those whose fearful, fragile egos rule cannot or do not appreciate the need for all manner of people regardless of their station in life. We cannot all be doctors, lawyers, leaders, but we can appreciate the gifts and talents of others and the need for their services alongside ours. We complement one another; we are not to be in competition with one another. What would society be like if there were no trash haulers, wait-staff, certified nurse assistants, mechanics or janitors? Conversely, what would society be like if all were presidents, judges, pilots, or directors? Life requires balance and appreciation for all.
We are all extensions of the Divine, of God. We all have a place in this world, lessons to learn, purposes to fulfill. We all have our view of life, of God, of one another, from our unique vantage points. In Peter’s statement, I believe his heart was in the right place, he wanted to unite all peoples and stop the fighting among those who believed their particular doctrinal stances to be correct above all others and feeling threatened by those who held other beliefs. I believe the statement Peter may have made and the statement we read in the Bible are likely different.
The words we read in the Bible are not the actual words of Peter; they are the interpretations many times over of the various people whose hands and motivations touched the work we call the Bible. I believe the essence is correct; God is not a respecter of persons. Man, however, has decided what is and is not acceptable to God, and has used those decisions to control others, to sway them to their side of the line drawn in the sand. The statement found in The Complete Jewish Bible from Acts states, “…no matter what people he belongs to.” Noble statement. An attempt at a unifying statement. And yet, the implied directive is that Christianity is the correct side. What if God told Peter all were created equal, all valuable, and all correct regardless of how they chose to journey with the Divine? A statement like this would negate the need for a particular religion, would it not? If all were truly equal in the eyes of God, all would be acceptable whether choosing to journey with God spiritually or not. In other words, all are acceptable.
As created beings, we came into the world a blank slate with the wisdom of the Universe tucked inside our spirits. I do not believe we need man to interpret the wisdom of the Universe inate in each of us. When we choose to journey with the Divine we are allowing God to meet us in the way we can experience the Divine Presence. We will not all experience God in the same way, nor should we. Our journeys will be different, our purposes different, the ways in which we experience this life different, and God will meet us in the ways most resonant with our unique bents and personalities. I further believe we are all meant to journey with God; some ignore the call within, and that too, is acceptable, though perhaps not preferable. As extensions of the Divine, our spirits will seek connection. Ego will attempt to thwart our need for connection; ego wants control.
My spiritual journey apart from traditional teachings and doctrines of organized religion has offered a true connection with God, access to the wisdom of the ages, and a true love of self as the first step in unconditionally loving and accepting others. Do I like everyone? Of course not, we were not meant to. Do I love and accept everyone as unique vessels and extensions of the Divine? Yes, I do. Like and love are very different; love supersedes like. Liking another can change situationally; love is enduring, accepting, tolerant, and appreciative of the gifts and talents of all beings, recognizing all have a unique purpose and place in the world.
As we move into the holiday season, look around at those in your life; family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, the clerk at the grocery store, the mail carrier, and all others outside your immediate circle. Do you truly appreciate their contributions to the world, their gifts, and talents, do you truly see them for who they are; extensions of the Divine God? If not, set an intention that God open your eyes to those around you. There is a place and a purpose for all no matter what people they belong to….