Let me just shoot you straight: If your theology is fixed; if you, as they say, “know that you know that you know”; if, like the country song goes, you and God are like two peas in a pod; allow me to be so bold as to say your theology is crap, you don’t know, and no you’re not.
Peter learned this lesson. “While Peter was still speaking the Holy Spirit fell on everyone who heard the word.” The sense here is that the word is the manipulator, not we the manipulators of the word. This word plays us, uses us, and gets what it wants despite us. See, this is a transforming word. It may be that this word is the force for our living, as it comes from the one we claim as the source of our living.
What was this word that everyone heard; that Peter spoke; that completely blew the minds of bystanders, as the least likely of those began to show signs of being pickled in God-ness at that moment? Listen to what Peter was actually saying (we have to look back a few verses): “God doesn’t show partiality”; “Jesus of Nazareth, whom God anointed with the Holy Spirit,” “God was with [Jesus]”; “God raised [Jesus] up”; “We are witnesses whom God chose beforehand”; “God raised [Jesus]”; “[Jesus] is the one whom God appointed.”
Behind all the chaos of recent events there’s God, unphased and at the helm as always. Peter learns, even in his preaching to Pagans, that it’s not his actions or his words that matter but God who is present in the flow of that moment–who is the flow at each moment. Those folks weren’t hearing Peter’s words, they heard God’s word. And, it was enough to transform EVERYTHING, including the growing sense of the church at that time. There would never really be a place for dogmatics or theology with God. I know, the church has engaged in dogmatics for centuries. Could it be, though, that in trying to establish the faith we are merely proving our lack of faith that this is God’s church, open always to the ebb and flow of God’s word and presence at each moment?
The danger of engaging in dogmatics to establish and institutionalize theology can be seen in our tendency to become hyper-Christocentric. Absolutely! The message of Christ’s death and resurrection is central to our faith. However, in turning the man Jesus into a god, I fear our attempts to make God into a human. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life; but, the way to where, the truth about what, and whose life? I think Peter was clear on this one. God’s word, using Peter to speak before “unholy” folks, kept pointing to God. In reference to Jesus, still the word pointed to God (see also Luke 18.19–and don’t twist it!). To follow Jesus’ way, truth, and life is to be on a path to God–a true path among paths–and to live human life the way God, its creator, intended.
God is not opened to being closed. God establishes but will not be established. God will remain mysterious. We follow Jesus as Jesus’ way reveals to us a life in sync with God, The Flow. Therefore, it is wise (Ps.53.2) for us, as did Jesus, to constantly remain open to God’s unpredictableness at each and every moment and to let go into the reality that God’s word is at work. It’ll use us as it sees fit.