There are two basic styles of reading. The first is superficial, trivial, and shallow which allows the reader to gain the sense of a certain topic or subject. In this style of reading, the reader manages to comprehend some of the content read but does not go beyond to know more and fully apprehend the entire thought or reasoning behind the material that is being read.
On the other hand, the second style of reading is one that produces a critical and reflective view of the content. The reader immerses himself in the text, goes deeper, and, finally, changes perceptions, thoughts, and even their behavior based on the information they have not only read, but internalized.
I’d like to suggest that the recently published book by Pastor Josanan Alves', titled Primeira o Reino, or The Kingdom First, is the product of reflective reading.
Reading and Reacting
In the 119 pages of this well-written and purposeful work, edited by the Brazilian Publishing House (CPB), the author sets out on a journey of spiritual self-analysis. Alves makes it clear that to be a true worshiper of God, it is important to understand profound biblical and moral lessons found in the Scriptures. The book starts with a little-explored but striking story present in the Gospels of John (chapter 8) and Mark (chapter 12) - the offering of the poor widow.
It is a brief account of a very poor woman who gives an offering of everything she owned to the temple, while unknowingly being watched by Jesus. Her two coins, of insignificant monetary value, represented an awareness of recognition of God at a level far superior to those of the other donors.
Josanan Alves, however, is not limited to contextualizing the episode and making applications to current religious life. He offers, in each chapter, the opportunity for the reflective reader to dig deeper into the knowledge of the themes present in the approach, in addition to reacting by writing their impressions and talking about their challenges and proposals for changing their lives.
Several extremely essential themes are covered in the book, but I’d like to highlight three in this article.
The first theme presented is the need to have complete dependence on God which leads us to have a deep sense of gratitude to the One who gave us everything, and to whom we belong.
Another important aspect highlighted in the book has to do with the total surrender of life, influence, resources, and, ultimately, self to God. The ideas of self-denial and renunciation are well broken down, and become visible to whoever reads the book and understands the depth of the teachings contained in the story of the offering of the poor widow.
It is equally essential to understand that the book points to the relevance of complete faithfulness to God. The author works hard on the idea of principled Christians who are individually and consciously determined to be loyal stewards before a God who sacrificed Himself to ensure our salvation.
The book provides a pleasant and dynamic reading, containing the personal experiences of the author, who has been working for several years in an area known as Christian Stewardship. It is precisely the Adventist ministry charged with expanding the concept of spiritual development according to a faithful life totally dependent on God.
It will be worth diving into every word, every expression, every teaching contained in The Kingdom First. Alves' desire, as he himself expresses at the end of the book, is that “all those who come into contact with this book may... say: 'I am completely yours, Lord. Everything I have belongs to You and will always be at Your complete disposal. If at any point I decide between fidelity and security, please remind me that there is no security in the path of infidelity.”