The Gospel Ban
They could not be taught because they were not the correct color or race.
Crisis of Faith
John entered the flat with zemblanitous anger mounting in his chest--rising to his throat!
He wanted to shout!
Abstruse thoughts regarding the episode that occurred in the meeting he left moments ago paraded in his mind! He switched on the light to his studio-like flat and adjusted the luminescence. It was good for him to have the ability to adjust the light, because he did not want to experience darkness—it was too rooted inside him. He did not want to have full light either, because he felt his own light had diminished. He adjusted the light until there was a dim glow that placed an almost eerie hue in his flat. Within the eerie he stewed.
John felt dim, gloomy and eerie. His newfound faith seemed like betrayal to him after what he'd just learned; however, he could not deny the deep impressions rooted in his soul that he had received about the truth of the teachings from the missionaries. As odd, and out of place as those men appeared that day, he knew what they taught him was true.
It started like this...
John was a merchant by trade and a travel agent. After he finished religious studies as most others in his family did at a local school, he traveled the country visiting different institutions of learning and taking short programs here and there until he decided that he wanted to travel as a profession.
His father had given him quite a fortune in money and assets when he informed him he would be leaving to pursue trade and travel interests as a graduation gift. In truth, his dad was so thrilled he had finally settled on something of worth to do he would not dare withhold his aid.
He rented out to John the flat in which he lived for a very reasonable price allowing John to invest the newly required resources from his father wisely. John purchased stock in several markets that supplied perishables and non-perishable items to the local community. He eventually earned enough revenue to open several local stores that brought him an extremely comfortable living.
He had successfully gained financial independence—traveling to many countries for almost ten years successfully trading and growing his enterprises, though he still rented his father's flat. In his travels over the years, John met many people who became good friends. One such acquaintance, Horatio, became his best friend.
Walking to the market a different route that day to avoid passing his parents’ home--his mother was relentless about having grandchildren since John was above thirty and had not shown any indication of a potential mate--he ran into two preachers who accosted him on the street.
They claimed to be missionaries sent to teach him about Christ. John had heard about these people and he did not particularly like the fact that they approached him so aggressively. He already knew Christ would save all the righteous—having been taught from his youth!
Horatio was his sounding boarding when it came to new philosophies and such. They spoke of many different religions and philosophies all the time. Hearing those two preachers made him miss Horatio because he had not visited Him in months. Since his best buddy had married a few years back, they did not get to spend the same amount of time discussing... things.
Horatio was the most sincere truth seeker of all the people that he knew.
Horatio considered every possibility and every religion before declaring anything about it. Horatio was what John called a believing agnostic; meaning, that he believed in a higher power, but he did not think one could prove, disprove or know for sure of the existence of one. Horatio went to some type of worship service every week to make sure he had what he termed spiritual culture—believing it was psychologically damaging to worship alone.
John submitted to the missionaries and told them to meet him later at one of his stores so they could walk back together to his flat with some supplies. He walked everywhere when he was in the neighborhood. He figured it helped him stay young.
After finishing some business with several employees, John met the missionaries as agreed and informed them that they had from the time it took for them to get to his flat to persuade him to allow them inside. The missionaries looked pleased with the challenge and commenced with the restoration of the gospel and a fulfillment of the plan of salvation by God. They told him of Jesus Christ and his appearance to prophets and others. They continued in this manner until John realized they had stopped walking and were sitting on the stoop outside of his flat.
One of the missionaries saw the astonished looked on John’s face and asked, “So, may we come in?”
A week later, John was baptized into and confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ. The missionaries continued to meet with him and introduced him to other members of the church. He was also informed why the temple that he had seen and visited for special holiday presentation his entire life was so important and it took on a new meaning when he went there for the first time to worship after his baptism.
Horatio wanted his entire family to hear the gospel message they shared.
John visited Horatio a few months following his baptism. After informing Horatio of his new religious belief. Horatio was ready for him, for the debate! After a warm embrace, John explained the new feelings and excitement he had about this new religion that he claimed was restored to the earth after a long apostasy.
Horatio regarded John’s words and could see the sincerity in his face. It was disarming. Horatio was not prepared for the earnest way in which John expressed himself. Horatio decided to return with John to meet the missionaries because none served where Horatio lived.
After arriving in town, the two travelers walked to the flat with the gaze of many of the neighbors as they always did when one of “those people” entered the neighborhood. The people knew well that John was cosmopolitan and had friends of all races, but it was odd to see Horatio, who stood out like a black dot on a white canvas! And, he was tall and imposingly built on top of that! Horatio was a hard man to miss in a crowd even if the entire canvas was dotted with black dots, his dot would be the largest!
Once settled in the flat, John told Horatio to make himself at home while he called, and sent for the missionaries to visit his flat as soon as possible to teach. When the missionaries arrived, they were taken aback at the first sight of Horatio.
Horatio was not offended; he had become accustomed to the reaction whether to his size or his skin color. The missionaries apologized for their reaction and it was laughed off by all. One of the missionaries asked a few question about Horatio and then jokingly teased him about being a gladiator. Horatio took all the chiding well, as well as John could see. He sat next to Horatio as the missionaries began to teach.
Horatio promised to listen with an open mind. Whatever those missionaries told John caused a change to happen. John could be stubborn about religion, so he did not take John’s conversion lightly. After the meeting, Horatio also felt stunned by the teachings. He told the missionaries he needed to return to his family and discuss those things he had learned with them. Horatio wanted his entire family to hear the gospel message they shared.
United at Last!
John and Horatio sat awake the entire night talking about the gospel in some form with scriptures and other records laid out to reference. John was happy about the conversation. For the first time he and Horatio spoke and there was a connection that burned in both of their hearts. Horatio would be baptized!
Weeks after returning home, Horatio sent word that his family would visit to speak to the missionaries and be baptized into the church. Horatio had made arrangements for them all to stay at an inn in town where people of his kind were less conspicuous.
John was always upset by the social injustice of how most of the inns in town did not take kindly to “outsiders” or “those people”. He did not object to the arrangements because too many black dots on a white canvas could have caused some problems in his section of town. Besides the small flat in which he lived would not have suited them.
That night, John met with the missionaries in a meeting with the leaders of the mission or ministry in that area. The missionaries had informed their leaders that Horatio would be taught. John added that Horatio was on his way to town to be baptized along with his family.
John, grinning ear to ear, did not understand the sad and nervous looks from the leaders and missionaries faces. One of the leaders congratulated him on his baptism and membership in the church. John could tell by the man’s tone he would not like the next words that left the man’s mouth and he did not.
The missionaries who had taught Horatio lowered their eyes as John looked at them for some understanding. There was only shame. John said a prayer with them all, not really hearing the words and bade them good night as he walked home in a shocked stupor. Horatio and his family could not be baptized or taught any further.
John could not think straight enough to gain any understanding of the situation. The dim light in the room did not improve his mood. He felt like a shadow of a person knowing that he could not enjoy the happiness from the gospel he embraced so recently because Horatio and his family could not. They could not be taught because they were not the correct color or race. John also knew he would have to tell them when they arrived.
He stood out in complexion, speech, and culture.
General Authorities Speak
John had heard the general authorities of he church speaking about the gospel blessing the entire world and loving all of God’s children, but now Horatio could not have it. Were not Horatio and his family children who God created? John did not understand why the leaders of the church did not just take the rule away and extend the gospel at least to those who were interested.
Horatio received the news from John sadly. He knew from experience that his kind would not have been welcomed anyway. Horatio was accustomed to being shunned every time he visited John’s city. He stood out in complexion, speech, and culture. He visited with his friend John and went about his way with his family home after a few days.
A few months passed and John became less active at church. He soon found himself not participating or identifying with his knew faith because he thought the leaders and members seemed hypocritical and fake. He still believed in the restored gospel, he just thought the people did not fit the message he had of what a true believer should be. He remembered how disappointed the missionaries seemed to find out that Horatio could not have the gospel taught or participate in the gospel ordinances. He knew others had to feel as he did.
John stayed in contact with Horatio, messaging him often. John decided to use his fortune and influence to gather a movement to support the spread of the gospel to all people, recruiting people from church using the very words of the prophets to justify his movement.
Horatio advised John not to do it, reminding John about their conversations before he became disaffected with the church. Horatio wanted John to be happy and uplifted as he was before. John would not listen. He soon left the church altogether.
Revelation to Change the Policy
A few years later, the prophet received a revelation to take the gospel to the world, to all worthy people that believed the ordinances would be made available. There was a great rejoicing in the church. The missionaries went far and wide and the church began to grow exponentially. John had become so disaffected with the church he did not return at the news.
Horatio made a surprise visit to John’s flat several months after the announcement from the church of the revelation that brought about the change in policy. Horatio was now a baptized member along with his family; and he was a leader for his branch at home. John congratulated him, but his heart was broken by the church he loved and he would not forgive the leaders for having such a policy in the first place.
John asked the burning question in his heart of Horatio,
Why would God allow a ban in the first place on any of His Children when I know He is no respecter of persons?”
Whether the ban was of man or of God is not important for you, but it is your purpose to be true to your beliefs—the things God have revealed to you personally.
I know that the gospel has been restored and that the missionaries who taught me of the gospel changed my life for the better. Nothing I discover can change the fact that God spoke to me through his Holy Spirit and revealed to me that the church His Son established is true.
I have seen the witnesses. I have heard the apostles of God and know they are telling the truth of his ministry in these very streets of Jerusalem!
In Athens, I knew of many gods. Now I know for sure of the true God and his Son whom the Romans crucified not too many years before. I also know that He lives, Peter received word of the Lord to take the message to the world, and now I am bringing it back again to you.
Until Peter received the revelation from God to take the gospel to us gentiles, I waited on the Lord. I knew when you spoke to me of the truth the message was true, that God does reign supreme and has a plan of salvation for us.
I knew that Jesus of Nazareth did restore the gospel to the earth, and fulfilled the law of sacrifice. I now come to you and say remember what you have learned.
My pale skin and blond hair meant that I could not receive the gospel until God commanded his prophet to take the gospel to my kind. He has now done so. Be happy and come worship with us.”
John’s brown eyes moistened as his looked into the sky blue eyes of his friend, the friend who still stood out like a spot on a white cloth in Jerusalem. Taking Horatio’s hand, John responded,
I do believe, but it will take time to heal my bitter heart. I love you so much that I allowed my own hopes to blind my eyes to reason about the gospel. Christ was not for the Jew alone, but for all men. I will return.
John, with his dark olive skin; and Horatio with gleaming blond hair and piercing blue eyes stood with their families and friends together years later to become martyrs for Christ in Rome following the persecution of the Christians, The Church of Jesus Christ.
© 2012 Rodric Anthony Johnson