When A Name Is Forbidden

“When they observed the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed and knew that they had been with Jesus. And since they saw the man who had been healed standing with them, they had nothing to say in response. After they had ordered them to leave the Sanhedrin, they conferred among themselves, saying, ‘What should we do with these men? For an obvious sign, evident to all who live in Jerusalem, has been done through them and we cannot deny it! But so this does not spread any futher among the people, let’s threaten them against speaking in this name again.’ So they called for them and ordered them not to preach or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, ‘Whether it’s right in the sight of God for us to listen to you rather than to God, you decide; for we are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.’ After threatening them further, they released them. They found no way to punish them, because the people were giving glory to God over what had been done; for the man was over 40 years old on whom this sign of healing had been performed.”

The Acts of the Apostles 4.13-22

This morning, I am encouraged by this story of the early disciples and their boldness to serve in the ministry and name of Jesus Christ. They were not seminary trained and had no special certification for performing the miraculous. But, they had been with Jesus. They had sat at the Master Teacher’s feet and this was all the education and experience that they needed.

Having performed an obvious sign of healing before many people, the religious leadership scrambled for a way to silence them. Peter and John were not doctors; consequently, they could not imply that this was their practice or profession. So, the religious authorities searched for a way to perform a miracle of their own: to deny what the people had seen with their own eyes. But, this was improbable. The people were already praising God. They then resolved that all that could be done was to threaten them and to order Peter and John not to do it again: do not “preach or teach at all in the name of Jesus.”  But they said that they couldn’t stop; what they have seen and heard while serving with Jesus had made such an impression on them that they they lacked the ability to stop. They just couldn’t keep it to themselves. 

I feel the same way about the message that I have been entrusted with. The freedom found in a race-less life is too good to keep to myself. I have to tell it! Still, I am often confronted by those who want me to stop teaching. They tell me that this is the way things have been and this is the way they must be. “God wants it this way.” But, like the disciples, I’ll leave that to them to judge.

They do not believe that this miracle is possible. And for them, talking about a life apart from race should not even be considered. Any name other than those ascribed to us by race should be forbidden. It is treated as heresy. Still, I wait for a new name to emerge.

Living as a colored human being is socially approved and calling ourselves white/ black/ red/ yellow/ brown/ beige is socially acceptable. But, I am often leery of what society allows and even encourages us to say about ourselves and others. The words we choose to speak shape our reality and the ideas that I propose in living a life a part from race is altogether different. We have not lived this way before.

But our lives and the way that we are to live them are not set in stone. I am convinced that once one experiences freedom from the labels of race, being neither Jew nor Greek, neither black nor white nor red, yellow, brown or beige and walks in the newness of life found in Jesus Christ, that there will be no turning back. There will be a notable difference in our interactions and the miraculous will be undeniable. And all that persons will be able to do is attempt to repress it.

 

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