People can get stuck thinking they have understood God, but the Holy Spirit shakes things up.
Fortunately, since we seem to need shaking up. We seem to have a tendency to get comfortable with the wrong things.
Our pastor pointed out on Sunday that the lectionary reading for the Sixth Sunday of Easter this year – Acts 10:44-48 – is even more surprising than we usually realize. The apostle Peter shows up to preach to Cornelius and his household, already thinking that just going to visit the Gentiles is a big step of cultural boundary crossing. But then the Holy Spirit shows up. It astounds Peter’s companions. And it impels Peter to acknowledge that the Gentiles “have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.”
That is, “equally.” That is, there they are, empowered by God “just as” Peter and the other believers – to serve God, as called upon; to spread the good news of the gospel; however we want to phrase that.
It wouldn’t be the first time in the history of people’s dealings with God that people had thought they’d understood the way things were going to work. Understood that God was going to respect pre-existing social arrangements. Understood the rules God had made, and understood them correctly, and so could count on God staying inside the lines of their understanding. And then been shaken out of that understanding by the astounding Reality.
It wouldn’t be the last, either.
But as we are continually reminded during the season of Easter, Reality will correct our false certainties. Including our false certainties about God.