Have you ever been a victim of discrimination? Have you ever been denied a request, refused a service, or otherwise treated with disdain because of your skin color, ethnic background, or social status? If so, you are far from alone. Here, though, is the good news: Such indignities, though commonplace on earth, are nonexistent in heaven. “God is not partial,” said the Christian apostle Peter with the utmost conviction.—Read Acts 10:34, 35.
Peter spoke those words in a most unusual setting—in the home of a Gentile named Cornelius. Peter, born a Jew, lived at a time when Jews viewed Gentiles as unclean and thus unacceptable for any kind of fellowship. So, why was Peter in Cornelius’ home? Put simply, because Jehovah God arranged the meeting. Peter had received a divine vision in which he was told: “You stop calling defiled the things God has cleansed.” Unknown to Peter, a day earlier, Cornelius had also received a vision, in which an angel directed him to summon Peter. (Acts 10:1-15) When Peter recognized Jehovah’s hand in the matter, he could not hold back from speaking.
“For a certainty,” said Peter, “I perceive that God is not partial.” (Acts 10:34) The Greek word rendered “partial” literally means “taker of faces.” (The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures) Regarding this term, one scholar explains: “It refers to a judge who looks at a man’s face and renders a verdict, not in accord with the merits of the case, but according as he likes or dislikes the man.” God does not favor one face over another because of race, nationality, social standing, or any other external factors.
Rather, Jehovah sees what is in our heart. (1 Samuel 16:7; Proverbs 21:2) Peter next said: “In every nation the man that fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him.” (Acts 10:35) To fear God means to respect, honor, and trust him, avoiding anything that displeases him. To work righteousness involves willingly doing what is right in God’s eyes. Jehovah finds pleasure in the man whose heart is filled with reverential awe that moves him to do what is right.—Deuteronomy 10:12, 13.
When Jehovah looks down from heaven, he sees just one race—the human race
If you have ever experienced discrimination or prejudice, there is good reason for you to take heart from Peter’s words about God. Jehovah is drawing people of all nations to true worship. (John 6:44; Acts 17:26, 27) He listens and responds to the prayers of his worshippers regardless of their race, nationality, or social standing. (1 Kings 8:41-43) We can be confident that when Jehovah looks down from heaven, he sees just one race—the human race. Are you moved to learn more about this impartial God?