July 12, 2022

Why Is It Hard To Read The Bible?

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. Psalm 119:105

When China opened its doors to foreigners in the late 1970s, I was among the first 7000 to be granted a visa to see the land described as a sleeping giant.  For decades, Chinese friends had been denied what we take for granted–freedom of expression and, certainly, freedom of religion.  The group I traveled with was international, with people from all over the world.  At dinner, a fellow traveler from Britain told of a strange encounter with a youth on the street seeking a Bible.

“Do you have a Bible?” asked the young man.

Taken by surprise the tourist replied, “Yes, but not with me.  It’s part of my library.”

Somewhat disappointed the youth asked, “Do you read your Bible?”

“No,” came the somewhat embarrassing reply.

Then puzzled the lad asked, “If you have a Bible, why don’t you read it?”

Good question!  Not only for the British tourist who was not a practicing Christian, but for us who believe in God and His Son Jesus Christ, but rarely ever stop to read it.

Yes, we intend to read at the end of the day, or we say to ourselves, “I’ll get up early tomorrow and take some time to get into the Word.”  But some way our intentions fade in light of the rush of getting to the office or school, scanning the news for a few moments, or trying to get the kids dressed and fed.  Bottom line–why don’t we make the time, when we say that we believe this is God’s Word and is so very valuable?

In times of crisis, we dust off the old Book.  Sure enough, the doctor says things aren’t going well, and we start searching for Psalm 23, or verses which bring comfort.  When bombs go off, soldiers are deployed, the earth quakes or businesses fail, we remember our Bibles.

Helen Keller, a remarkable woman who challenged the lives of many in spite of her blindness, once said, “I have often thought that it would be a blessing if human beings were stricken blind and deaf for a few days at some time during their adult lives.  Darkness would make them more appreciative of sight; silence would teach them the joys of sound.”

God didn’t give us this book to grace our bookshelves, or have it in our home as though its very presence would give us good luck and chase away the little devils that plague us with trouble.  He gave it to us so that we might know how to live, how order our lives, how to relate to each other in a family, how to run our business, and how to make sure that we get to heaven when we die.

For years, the Bible has been and still is the best-selling book in all the world, but I wonder if the Bible is the best-read book in all the world.  Researchers say that 88 percent of us own a Bible and most own four copies, but less than half of those who own them ever read them. George Gallup Jr. summed it up well saying, “People revere the Bible, but they don’t read it–that’s what it comes down to.”

The question of that young man in China seeking to find a Bible for himself still rings in my ears, “If you have a Bible why don’t you read it?”  How would you answer that?   Could it be that the real answer is the same problem as plagued the Ephesians a generation after they first heard the Word?  “I hold this against you,” said the Almighty, “You have forsaken your first love” (Revelation 2:4).  Some way, somehow, we still have time for what we consider to be important.  May God help us to get our priorities straightened out.

Resource reading: Revelation 2:1-7.