There is a saying that, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” While I feel this may not be completely true, I do feel familiarity often breeds apathy. Is it simply part of the human condition that we tend to overlook the things we see everyday, that our eyes become blinded to what is right in front us? Why is it those things most familiar to us, over time, lose their efficacy, despite how powerful they may be? The breathtaking vistas that we pass on the daily commute eventually command less and less awe as they blend into our expected environment.
Why have most western Christians today lost their love for God’s word?
As I write these words, I realize I may be offending the sensibilities of many who stumble upon them, but I challenge you to read this with introspection. For instance, when was the last time you picked up your Bible for the purpose of listening to the Holy Spirit? Notice I said your Bible and not some lifeless devotional reader that stays parked on your toilet so you can get in your 15 minute “quiet time” for the day.
The past few weeks have found me preparing a study of God’s word for students in my area. Some of them are already believers; however, others are not. In my preparation, I found it necessary to begin by addressing some basic presuppositions we as evangelicals believe about scripture. Much that we take for granted about the Bible is simply not part of the worldview here. Therefore, I am starting at the very beginning. In doing such, I am realizing an unsettling fact, that I indeed take much of what I believe the Bible to be for granted. Truly, I imagine most of us who have grown up with easy and continuous access to these writings of God may need to take the time and consider just how precious a gift we have received.
I honestly cannot remember the first Bible I received. I am almost certain it was before I could read it. Over the course of my life, I cannot tell you the total number of Bibles I have owned, a fact I have taken for granted. Where I work, most people cannot read. By most, I mean 90 something out of every 100. What is more, even if they could read, they have had no access to God’s word in their own language. Until this year, it did not exist. Let that soak in for just a minute. These people have never seen the familiar words of John 3:16 in their own language. They have never had the opportunity to sit down and read about Noah and the ark or Jonah and the whale. They have never seen it written that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”
In my estimation, God’s words handed down to us in this 66 volume work we call the Bible is the greatest gift mankind has ever been given, save the Word given in flesh so that we may have life and have it abundantly. It is our measuring stick by which we gauge all of life. It has the answers to all of the most important questions. And most significantly, it introduces us to God himself. In the process, it explains more to us about who we are than any other work in the history of mankind. This book knows me better than I do.
That being said, it appears that we who should know it and cherish it best seem to neglect it more and more. I recently read a Gallup poll statistic that said only 37% of Americans interviewed could name all four Gospels. (I understand the shaky nature of polls and statistics as evidence for a point, but I was flabbergasted at this one!) In a country full of Bibles, it seems fewer and fewer people know what is written between those bonded leather covers. My guess is that this not only points to a devastating trend of national secularization, but an unfortunate reality among our own Christian ranks. Do Christians even read the Bible?
Over the next several weeks, my intention is to continue this topic in my posts. As I prepare my discussion with these students, I will hopefully take any of you interested along with me. My prayer is that as my students and I learn together about this gift of God’s words to man, you as well will be able to revisit the Bible’s significance in your own life.
Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.
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