I genuinely, undeniably, indescribably love the Book of Acts. Surprising since I do not enjoy history! Arnold Cook probably had me in mind when he advised, “Those who live in the past are blind in one eye. Those who never consult the past are blind in both eyes.” I am an enjoy-the-present, don’t-mess-me-up-with-reality, let-me-help-make-a-better-future kind of guy. I find it ironic that the Book of Acts, the history of the first century church, is my favorite New Testament book. I am fascinated with its twenty-eight chapters that provide thirty-three years of history. I find myself striving to walk as the early church walked—in the power of the Spirit. I struggle to preach with boldness and desire to see God at work in my ministry. Yet, I am convinced that Acts’ then and there, in the first century, has much to say to the here and now, twenty-first century church.
Acts compels me to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. I cannot get away from its message. It calls me to be an effective Christian witness, to walk in holiness, looking for the Lord’s soon return, and desiring to turn the world upside down with truth that changes lives.
I want to be victorious, to overcome obstacles, and run the race that is set before me. Like the men and women in the early church, I will not retreat into compromise or be lulled to sleep by a world calling me into tolerance. I will not conform to this world but seek to be transformed into the image of God.
I must admit, I come short of my expectations and occasionally fall flat on my face. Acts encourages me to get up, brush myself off, and try again. The ninety-five people introduced in Acts encourage me to press on. They provide role models of what I ought to, and can, be. Sixty-two of my friends are never mentioned elsewhere in the New Testament. The twenty-four missionary messages of Acts correct me, convince me, convict me, challenge me, and change me. Collectively, they teach me that God has a team consumed with a passion for reaching the world. Individually, they caution me not to be afraid of standing alone and that I can make a difference. Acts has spoken hundreds of lessons to my soul, and I have felt the tug of the Spirit to write so that others may learn.
I will consult the past, but will skip living in it, choosing to face the challenges and opportunities God has given us today. As much as I love Acts, I really would not want to exchange places with Stephen, or be let down in a basket like Paul, or even knocked down on the road to Damascus. I prefer to write lessons from my corner at home, instead of a prison cell, or nestled in the belly of a ship destined for shipwreck. I will skip walking miles delivering a letter to the new Christians, and stick with the convenience of sending e-mail. I will pass when it comes to messy, time-consuming inkwells and stick with the modern convenience of my trusty laptop.
I will learn from history (even if I do not like the subject), but I am thrilled to live in the finest hour ever. We cannot live in yesteryear and have no promise of tomorrow. God continues to move all over our world, and miracles are happening that cast a shadow on the events of Acts.