Jesus called his followers to a radically different way of living – one of love instead of hate, salvation instead of condemnation, forgiveness instead of revenge – according to Leith Anderson in his book The Jesus Revolution: Learning from Christ’s First Followers. The book of Acts provides a succinct description of how the first disciples went about this new way of living during the early days of the faith, enabling present-day Christians to discover the roots of their own beliefs and behaviour.
The author’s book takes the reader through the pages of the book of Acts, inviting the reader to respond to Jesus’s call to live out God’s will on earth. Interesting observations include:
- The early believers shared their possessions and gave to anyone in need as a spontaneous Spirit-driven expression of the desire to care for each other.
- Joy is contagious, just like misery and criticism.
- When we commit our lives to Jesus, we experience “times of refreshing”.
- Peter and John engaged in civil disobedience when ordered not to preach; this complicates the question of whether Christians should always obey the law.
- When persecuted, the early Christians prayed not to escape trouble but for boldness to speak despite the intimidation.
- The early church was open to new approaches, experimentation and risks, willing to accomplish God’s purpose in a new way, using a combination of spirituality and common sense.
- As in the case of Saul, God takes time to get us ready for what he calls us to do.
- Acts 15 describes what happened when a group of critics showed up to argue that the church was teaching a watered-down theology.
- The message of the book of Acts is directed to us, as a challenge to continue the growth of the church.
Many Bible commentaries are somewhat dry and academic; that is not the case with this book at all. I found fresh insights and inspiration in almost every chapter. This is partly because Acts is packed with exciting adventures in any event, but the author has managed to draw out much of that spirit of excitement to make the book engrossing and challenging.