Sorry for the rambling nature of this. It’s been going through my head all day, and I post it now, incomplete as it is.
The Doctrine and Covenants contains an interesting parable that I noticed for the first time this morning. It’s short, and basically, Christ asks his children (all of us) to “esteem his brother [or sister, of course]” as themselves. He then says:
For what man among you having twelve sons, and is no respecter of them, and they serve him obediently, and he saith unto the one: Be thou clothed in robes and sit thou here; and to the other: Be thou clothed in rags and sit thou thereâ€”and looketh upon his sons and saith I am just?
The first thing that came into my mind upon noting this verse was little children in the philippines, running around in their filthy over-sized t-shirts with no other clothing. So my initial answer to “what man among you” was “You, Lord.”
But I was wrong in that first thought, at least partly. God didn’t put that t-shirt on those children. His children did. I did. We all did. Some say God clothed us in bodies of flesh and bone as well, but to my eyes (and maybe yours), there is inequity in our physical bodies as well. In any case, to believe in God in the LDS tradition is to believe that he put us into this system which we are now in, called life. So in a metaphorical since, God is clothing us with this opportunity. And God uses the same terminology of the parable for himself many times. He is “no respecter of persons”. Black, white; bond, free; dying in birth, living to be 100; wearing our abundance, only having a filthy t-shirt. “All are alike unto God.” And God is just, right?
What is the context for this parable anyway?
In this Chapter (vs 16), God tells us that, being no respecter of persons, he hears the prayers of the rich and the poor. He then tells us he has given us a world of abundance, and ends with where I started this post, pleading with us to esteem each other as ourselves and to “be one, and if ye are not one ye are not mine”
The parable (it seems to me) is almost as if God is pleading with us, saying “Look, when I put this scenario in motion, you were all equally cared, but since then, you’ve messed it up among yourselves. The system of earth can be just and we can all have the same opportunities, but you keep making it harder for each other. Can’t you love each other like I love you?”
I am certain He is the Father in the Parable, and is not calling for us to be the father, because we CAN’T be the father to our brothers, whom he is asking us to esteem. God is declaring he loves us all equally, and so ought we to care for one another. It is a simple and fundamental concept in our religion.
But still, I can’t stop thinking about those children in their t-shirts, or the child born to die a minute later, or the little girl who’s parents leave her too soon alone in the world. I think about the different spiritual gifts we have, and how I have never met two people who are really the same in their needs.
Could it be that while God treats us all as equals, he does still see that we are all different? A father would not merely give all his sons robes, if he knew one son needed a parka in alaska, would he? I can remember my own father dressing me in “rags” to go “there” to do some dirty work. My good clothes would have been wholly inappropriate.
So God is no respecter of persons, but a respecter of situations. This implies that there are variables in our situation which are beyond God’s control. This makes sense. After all, by God pleading with us, we know he is a respecter of agency, to say the least.