Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Orange County, California, and author of the bestseller The Purpose Driven Life, launched a program in his church called 40 Days in the Word. His goal for his congregation is to love the Word as they never have loved it before, to learn the Word as they have never have learned it before, and to live the Word as they never have lived it before. He kicked off his campaign by showing the Bible is historically, prophetically and scientifically accurate. Love it, learn it, live it.
While the Bible is the number-one-all-time bestseller, I witness examples everyday in our society of people who are ignorant of what it says. I am not talking about people in general, but about people who profess to be believers. We live in a time when, at least in America, the Scriptures are more readily available than they have ever been. Bibles are less expensive, more prolifically printed, and in more versions and translations than ever before. I have a Bible app on my iphone that I downloaded for free. It gives me twenty-seven different English versions of the Bible literally at my fingertips. If the Word is so accessible, why is it read so little?
According to statistics one third of high school graduates and forty-two percent of college graduates never read another book in their lifetime. Most high school graduates only read at an eighth grade level and twenty percent of adults read at a fifth grade level or less. These figures indicate a loss of interest in reading and that leads to reduced literacy. Why is there this reduced interest in reading?
We live in a fast paced world where most of us live hectic schedules just trying to make a living and provide for our families. Most people believe reading is uninteresting and time-consuming, little to be gained and time lost. If the practice is truly unproductive then its decline could be understood. But I think most people have forgotten some of the benefits and joys of reading.
People who read are generally smarter than those who don’t. Reading is no fun if you do not understand what you are reading. Get an inexpensive dictionary, you will improve you’re your understanding, enjoyment and vocabulary. Your writing skills will improve as you read what others write. By paying attention to details as you read you are training your memory and improving it. By thinking about what you read you nurture the ability to analyze information and the associated skills of making good decisions.
Besides the ongoing educational benefits there are emotional and spiritual benefits also. Reading is a way to escape from the hectic pace of life, to slow our schedule and reduce stress. Most adults spend two hours a day watching television that is no more than a virtual repeat of their daily tedium. Reading can be a stress reducing alternative. Reading allows the opportunity to pause and think about what I am reading and can be the source of tranquil contemplation; I am not being forced to accept the perspective of a script writer being presented at the pace of a televised program.
These benefits are common to reading in general and more specifically true when reading the Bible. The scriptural record not only establishes the historicity of the Word, but also underscores the truth that history is His story. The prophecies that have been fulfilled in the past are a promise of those that will be fulfilled in the future. Careful consideration of the biblical text shows there is no contradiction between true science and scriptural truth. Come walk with your ancestors, consider the counsel of kings, commune with prophets and worship with the psalmists.
As singer Mark Harris has said, “I don’t have a god I can put on a stand, or a god I can hold in the palm of my hand.” Christians do not worship an idol, nor cling to a carved piece of wood, sculpted stone, or molded brass; we worship He who is Spirit and has revealed His nature and will in His Word. Derek Prince was right, “You do not know God any more than you know His Word, you do not understand God any more than you understand His Word, you do not obey God any more than you obey His Word, and you do not love God any more than you love His Word.”
Read your Bible this year. As you do, God will give you a heart to love it, a mind to learn it, and the ability to live it.