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Acts 11:1-18

A Dangerous Read for a Holy People

I am who I am.


The name of God.

A name defines, a name controls. When someone calls my name, I turn, look and pay attention.

But when God gave His name, “Yahweh,” to Moses, it has always seemed to me like God cheated a bit.

I have a new application that works with my email and browser called Crystal Knows. Crystal Knows reads the names and email addresses of those I am messaging giving insights into that person’s personality; suggesting edits to my messages based on online data compilation.

My profile, which is available to anyone who has Crystal Knows, says, “Emily is a quick learner with strong analytical, creative, and social skills, but may seem sarcastic sometimes.” I feel like it pretty much hit the nail on the head. When you call my name, this is what you get.

However, if God had a profile on Crystal Knows, it would just say, “God will be whoever God will be.” It seems like a cop out answer to Moses’ question[1].

We as pastors, on the other hand, have made a living out of knowing God. The mysterious will of God made plain in three easy fill-in-the-blank sermon notes. Not only do we have Biblical and theological knowledge, but as Nazarenes, we have doctrine that defines who God is and who we are as God’s holy people. We can know so much about God.

So Acts 11:1-18 and the voices in scripture that seem to evidence God’s nature as ultimate freedom to “be whoever God will be,” should be at least a little unsettling to us, “Holy people.”

When God does something revolutionary and unexpected (like filling Gentile sinners with the Holy Spirit), it is often us religious God-knowing folks who are spreading the rumors and demanding the Peters to give an explanation.