The Bible: Loved And Not REad
Why is the Bible loved by so many and read by so few?
- Abraham Lincoln: The Bible "is the best gift God has given to man. All the good the Savior gave to the world was communicated through this book. But for it we could not know right from wrong. All things most desirable for man’s welfare, here and hereafter, are to be found portrayed in it."
- Charles Dickens: “The New Testament is the very best book that ever was or ever will be known in the world.”
- Rosa Parks: "Every day before supper and before we went to services on Sundays, my grandmother would read the Bible to me, and my grandfather would pray. Prayer and the Bible became a part of my everyday thoughts and beliefs. I learned to put my trust in God and to seek Him as my strength."
- Ronald Reagan: "Of the many influences that have shaped the United States into a distinctive nation and people, none may be said to be more fundamental and enduring than the Bible."
Despite the great reverence for the Bible, few people actually read it. According to recent surveys published by LifeWay and The Barna Group:
- Less that 20% of church goers read the Bible daily.
- Only 3% of teens read the Bible daily.
What's the problem?
If you want to read the Bible, but find your efforts falling flat, it may be your approach. If you can put a check next to any of these approaches, despite your best intentions, you will probably stop reading the Bible:
_____ The Spiritual Vitamin Approach:
Many of us open the Bible hoping to get that little nugget from God that will see us through the day. Like a multi-vitamin, we want that verse that will comfort, ward off temptation, encourage, or help us through today's biggest challenge. That's not a bad thing, it's just missing the BIG THING.
_____ The Proof-Text Approach:
Some read the Bible hoping to find the verse that will support their position, whether that be abortion, women's rights, capital punishment, divorce, remarriage, a big decision, or even a word of encouragement they want to give to a friend. Proof-texts are not necessarily a bad thing, they just miss the BIG THING.
_____ The Everest Approach:
In 1923, The New York Times asked the famous explorer George Leigh Mallory, "Why do you want to climb Mount Everest?" Mallory's reply: "Because it's there!"
Like Mallory, some of us want to read the Bible "because it's there." So we start our year with a goal to read the Bible in a year. Reading the Bible in a year is a good thing, but we can read every page and still miss the BIG THING.
What is the Big Thing?
Let these words sink deep into your soul:
- The Sons of Korah: As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. Psalm 42:1 NIV
- David: You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. Psalm 63:1 NIV
- Paul: I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. Philippians 3:10 NLT
Trying to read God's word without a deep desire to know God is like taking a selfie with a movie star. It's really not about the star, it's about you. That approach won't work with God. God's words to Jeremiah are ones we all need:
When we are reading the Scriptures to know God, it changes things because it changes us. Charles Spurgeon said,
Nothing will so enlarge the intellect, nothing so magnify the whole soul of man, as a devout, earnest, continued investigation of the great subject of the Deity. . . . Oh, there is, in contemplating Christ, a balm for every wound; in musing on the Father, there is a quietus for every grief; and in the influence of the Holy Ghost, there is a balsam for every sore.
Would you lose your sorrows? Would you drown your cares? Then go, plunge yourself in the Godhead's deepest sea; be lost in his immensity; and you shall come forth as from a couch of rest, refreshed and invigorated.
We're going on a Bible reading adventure this week, so let's begin with the end in mind -- getting to know God better, learning to love God more, surrendering more and more of "me" to more and more of Him.
If you can check that box, you are off to a great start.
- Lincoln: "Is the best gift . . ." from Roy P. Basler, Editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume VII, p. 542 (Reply to the Loyal Colored People of Baltimore upon Presentation of a Bible, September 7, 1864).
- Charles Dickens: "The New Testament is . . ." a version of this appears in a letter Dickens wrote to his son (26 September 1868, D 3:668). See www.victorianweb.org. Accessed March 12, 2017.
- Rosa Parks: "The Woman on the Bus: The Faith of Rosa Parks," in www.beliefnet.com. Accessed March 12, 2017.
- Ronald Reagan, "Of the many influences . . ." from Proclamation 5018 -- Year of the Bible, 1983; By the President of the United States, February 3, 1983.
- "Less than 20% . . ." from "New Research: Less than 20% of Churchgoers Read The Bible Daily," by Ed Stetzer. Sept 13, 2012. www.christianitytoday.com Accessed 03/12/17.
- "Only 3%" from "Barna: Only 3 percent of teens read Bible daily," in www.onenewsnow.com. Accessed March 12, 1917.
- "Why do you want to climb Mt. Everest?. . . " from an interview, "Climbing Mount Everest is work for Supermen", The New York Times (18 March 1923)
- Spurgeon, "Nothing will so enlarge the intellect . . ." from Charles Spurgeon's sermon of January 7, 1855 at the New Park Street Chapel.