My wife and I have four children, the eldest in college and the youngest in elementary school.
Helping them develop their own walk with God is on our minds – a lot! The same goes for why so many young people stray from the faith and why parents often have a distant relationship with God.
I am called to guide my own family and help other believers walk with God. I have seen all kinds of programs, books and solutions being offered. Everything seems wonderful, but seems to be insufficient.
And there are many explanations for why young people are drifting away from the faith – it’s culture…it’s the media…it’s parenting styles…it’s an ineffective youth ministry.
I kept coming back to an answer that was so obvious…I almost missed it. The Bible.
It’s no secret that Bible literacy is in decline. All the great researchers on religious tendencies seem to mention it.
The Bible is our one unchanging lifeline for our faith. His words are the truest and most transferable expression of God.
Only this book levels the playing field for anyone who approaches God.
In many ways, words are the closest we can get to our Creator, and the only way faith is passed down from generation to generation.
Bible-themed products, apps, and books are not the answer. We have access to billions. Cartoons won’t build our faith, movies won’t renew our minds, and seminars won’t nourish our hearts.
The biblical text is alive. So why are we content with being once removed from source? Why don’t we meet God through his word?
Too many Christians either have not engaged with the Bible or have engaged with it in a way that does not deepen their walk with God. As a result, the Bible has no place in normal everyday conversations.
People don’t read the Bible because they don’t like the Bible.
But… People don’t like the Bible because they don’t read the Bible.
Lately I have seen an increasingly bright spotlight placed on the Bible. For me, this marks either an attempt to finally erase the Bible from our culture once and for all, or a genuine thirst for God. I hope that last one is true, but we all play a part in the outcome.
Here are 8 reasons why we don’t read the Bible. (And I have an antidote to that at the end of the article!)
1. The Bible is optional
After all, we have television, the Internet, and many “wise” voices extolling the answers. The message of faith has been oversimplified with banal expressions:
Love God, love people.
Why do I need to read this dusty book when I have a four-word summary?
Many people see more Bible verses on Facebook memes than in their Bible. And for them, Facebook replaces the Bible.
2. Many Church Leaders Don’t Expect Us to Read the Bible
I didn’t say leaders don’t want to people to read the Bible, they don’t expect this.
How can we tell? Should you bring your Bible to church?
When our children were babies and toddlers, we didn’t expect them to feed themselves, or even know how. So we gave them small bites of baby food. Eventually, we expected them to feed themselves and even cook their own meals.
The exhibiting pastors are content to feed a spoonful at a time. Thematic preaching pastors like to bring a topical flavor of the month. Both have their place, but shouldn’t we be encouraged (and expected) to do some self-nourishment at home?
University professors expect their students to read the textbook outside of class. But many pastors don’t expect the same from their flocks.
3. All we hear is mission and vision
An unintended consequence of church branding and mission statements is the constant preaching of vision and funding of mission.
In a growing number of churches, vision has replaced discipleship. ABCs (attendance, baptisms, money) are measurable…spiritual growth (and Bible literacy) is hard to gauge.
Even when “discipleship” is programmed, the emphasis is not on personal Bible reading. (See #2)
4. Google’s Faith
We can Google a Bible verse or blog about a verse anytime. So why read what’s around?
100 million people have downloaded the YouVersion Bible app. I celebrate that fact.
My question is, with accessibility to the scriptures increasing day by day, why is faith and commitment to the Bible decreasing?
Since we can always Google the Bible when we “need” it, we rarely read the book.
For some, even the thought of this leather-bound book triggers memories of personal failure. And who wants to be called back?! If you’ve ever tried a 365 day read, you know what I’m talking about.
For others, disappointing and confusing Bible reading experiences have triggered resignation (keep this book away from me).
6. Your parents don’t read the Bible
I’m talking to your kids now.
If you don’t read it, your kids statistically won’t. If you gave up, they may never start.
7. Biblical bullies
Sincere believers are often told, overtly and covertly, that they are not intelligent or educated enough to truly understand the Bible.
It sounds like something Martin Luther railed against 500 years ago! (This year is the 500th anniversary of the start of the reformation, by the way.) He continued to translate a version of the Bible into their language so that more people could read it.
Like others before and after, he was persecuted for giving such a “high” book to lowly people.
Today, some best-selling authors tell their subscribers that without the benefit of their education and knowledge of “historical context”, they cannot understand the Bible.
So why try?
8. Paul predicted that you would not read it.
“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching in their ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers suited to their own passions. (2 Timothy 4:3)
Okay, the apostle Paul didn’t predict you wouldn’t read it. But he predicted many would find more entertaining alternatives.
A Reason to Read the Bible – Faith Restarts
Moses asked families to teach the law to their families every day. But he knew that everyone needed a fresh start from time to time.
This is why he asked the Israelites to read the entire book of the law to the whole congregation every seven years.
Joshua triggered a reboot reading as soon as they crossed the Jordan. (Joshua 8) King Josiah ordered a restart when the dust-covered book of the law was discovered in the temple. (2 Kings 22) Ezra and Nehemiah instituted restart reading sessions when they rebuilt the temple and walls. (Nehemiah 8)
We all need a reboot of faith – new opportunities to recharge our batteries of faith.
With my own family, with friends and their families, and in churches, I have helped people recharge their faith and rediscover the wonders of the Bible…by reading it!
But with a few twists and tips.
Once again, we are powerfully reading the entire Bible in 60 days! It is possible, enriching and surprising.
It’s not a Bible study, it’s a Bible reading.
We start June 5th. I’ll walk you through a comprehensive read, cover to cover, with daily insights and a proven plan.
It’s not one of those challenges where I throw in a big goal and walk away. I am with you daily for 60 days, to help you stay on track and enjoy the journey.
Join us here today! http://eepurl.com/cPPJoD
Jeff Anderson speaks and writes about walking with God and leading your family in deep-rooted faith. He is the author of two books, Plastic Donuts and Divine Applause (Multnomah/Random House). www.JeffAndersonAuthor.com
Image Courtesy: ©Thinkstock/artist
Publication date: May 30, 2017