Connections 04.23.2023: Doing Something

Order your May-August curriculum

Acts 2:14a, 36-47

When I was about fifteen years old, the movie Dead Poets Society came out and changed my life—at least, from my teenaged perspective it sure felt like it. It did start me reading the dead poets, Whitman, Longfellow, Tennyson, and quoting them (or, to be honest, quoting the movie, quoting them). Still, after all these years, I find the film’s lines and lessons fitting into my daily life. Lest you think me too smarty-pants-y, I also regularly quote from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. No shame here.

One of the lessons of DPS is that belonging to the Dead Poets Society is not just about sneaking out of your expensive boarding school in the middle of the night with flashlights to recite old poems in a cave. Poetry is supposed to change your life. When one character is nearly driven to quit the group by his hesitancy and shyness, a more “carpe diem-ish” friend presses him: “Being in means you gotta do something. Not just say you’re in.”

As someone who is more inclined to sit and ponder than to jump up and act, that line has stuck with me, and I hear its echoes in Acts 2. Jesus has been resurrected (1:3), he has promised the Spirit’s coming (1:5), and he has finally ascended (1:9-11). The Holy Spirit has come with signs and wonders (2:1-13) and Peter has proclaimed the fulfillment of the prophet’s words (2:14-21) and the completion of Jesus’s work (2:22-36). In Acts 2:37, those who listen to Peter’s sermon are “cut to the heart” and they respond with a question: Now what? Or, to be more accurate, “What should we do?”

They seem to know that being “in” means they’ve got to do something, not just say they’re in. They have witnessed Jesus’s defeat of death, the Spirit’s wonders, and Peter’s tying all the threads of prophecy and passion together; now they must not just ponder but act. They already have a sense that belonging to the community of Christ-followers means not a statement to sign or a book to study or a creed to repeat, but a life that is changed. And Peter has a ready answer to their question: they are to repent, to be baptized, and to receive forgiveness and the gifts of the Spirit (2:28). As these new believers “seize the day” of the Lord’s coming among them, their lives will indeed be changed. They will live in a new community that practices a new economy (2:45). Every day they will worship and eat together gladly and generously (2:46). They will give praise to God and receive the “goodwill of all the people” (2:47).

What began at Pentecost is still going on today. Death is defeated, the Spirit is blowing, and the community of believers is gathering. We are still witnessing the work of God and we can still be “cut to the heart.” Being “in” still means doing something, and the question is now ours to ask: “What should we do?”


  • Do you think Peter’s answers to “What should we do?” are simple? Are they also easy?
  • How is your life changed by the answers Peter gives (repentance, baptism, forgiveness, spiritual gifts)? How are these things actively at work in your life?
  • In Acts 2, Peter’s instructions of what to do lead the believers to participate in a new kind of community. How do you think the experiences of repentance, baptism, forgiveness, and gifts affect the believers’ life together? Their praise and worship of God? Their presence in the wider community?
  • Do repentance, baptism, forgiveness, and spiritual gifts play a noticeable part in your faith community?
  • Meditate on the question “What should I do?” Is God calling you to act in some new way in response to Christ’s new life in this Easter season?

Nikki Finkelstein-Blair is the lead editor of Connections. She is a graduate of Samford University and Central Baptist Theological Seminary, and as a military spouse has had nine (at last count) different hometowns in the past 20 years. She and her husband Scott and sons Sam and Levi live in the Washington D.C. area. In recent years, Nikki has written Smyth & Helwys curricula as well as devotionals for and Baptist Women in Ministry. She weaves clergy stoles, knits almost anything, and dreams of making her dreadful novel drafts into readable books. She blogs about faith and making things at


For further resources, subscribe to the Connections Teaching Guide and Commentary. Additionally, the Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary series is a scholarly but accessible means for enhancing your study of each lesson.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email