I believe that God delights in disintegrating, annihilating, and obliterating our expectations. When people think they have Him figured out or think they can make His way into a formula, He will change things up so that they can’t. Kind of like a cactus in a banana peel: It is what you do not expect. Would you agree?
Personally, I think it’s great! I like having to think on my feet, encounter the unexpected, and take things as they come. A “roll with it” kind of challenge is exhilarating to me. This terrifies some, but then, I suppose I’ve always been a bit different. Perhaps this is why God used me to begin this ministry in ’97 when there was nothing like it in existence: no manual, no model, etc. It was fun to me then too. (Still is.)
I’m sure the more free-flowing types are nodding in agreement, and the rows-and-columns types are cringing in discomfort. And, do you know what? None of them are wrong. God creates both order and disorder–because disorder from our perspective is simply order from God’s perspective to which we are too close, too small, or too narrow-minded to perceive.
Peter talks about ‘different’ in today’s Scripture passage. He expected Holy Spirit to act the way He acted previously. What He did was different this time. When He did ‘different,’ Peter says. “… who was I to think that I could oppose God?”
“As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God?” (Acts 11:15-17 NIV)
You may be thinking, “Oh, I would never do THAT! I would never oppose God!” Think again. We all do at one time or another. How so? We expect people to think as we think, act as we act, believe as we believe–and when they do not, we think, “Oh, that couldn’t be God. They’re wrong!” When we do this, according to Peter, we oppose God.
Charismatic Believers think those who are not are wrong. Non-charismatic Believers think those who are must be wrong. Those who dunk think those who sprinkle are wrong. Those who worship on Saturday think those who worship on Sunday are wrong. Those who don’t drink alcohol think those who do are wrong. (This could be a loooooong list!)
You get the idea. Each one thinks that the way they think is the way God thinks. Oh, they may never say it out loud, but more times than not, the thought is there, either conscious or unconscious.
Whatever you believe, know this: A lot of what we think is important to God is (apparently) not important to Him. This is what Peter discovered when he said, “Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us …” Our task then is discerning what IS important to God and letting everything else go wherever it will go.
Where do you think Peter learned that God did not necessarily think the same thing he thought–and that he was opposing God if he did not accept that his thoughts could be wrong? I think it came from his encounter with Jesus in Matthew 16:
Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” (Mat 16:23 NIV)
Peter learned that lesson well and did not want to make the same mistake again. This is why God was able to use him in the encounter in today’s passage. Peter’s mindset should be ours as well. We must be teachable, be open to accepting that what God thinks may not be what we think, and be willing to adapt if God shows us something different.
Whether intentional or unintentional, opposing God produces the same result. Attempt to oppose Him, and you have one of two choices: Get out of the way or get run over–because God’s purpose will prevail.
(c) 2023 Randall Vaughn • All Rights Reserved • http://www.e-min.org