Your word is a lamp for my feet
and a light on my path. Psalm 119:105 csb
They say whatever makes you angry is something the Lord has assigned you to correct. Here’s something that really bothers me…
Bible poverty is the new term someone coined for what we used to call biblical illiteracy. What do these terms mean? They refer to the appalling fact that in a nation where abundant access to the Holy Bible is available in a variety of readable versions, those who call themselves Christians are ridiculously ignorant of its contents. I run into it all the time. Modern surveys show us how bad the situation really is.
- Did you know that fewer than half of all adults can name the four Gospels?
- According to 82 percent of Americans, “God helps those who help themselves” is a Bible verse.
- A majority of adults think the Bible teaches that the most important purpose in life is taking care of one’s family.
- A considerable number of respondents to one poll indicated that the Sermon on the Mount was preached by Billy Graham.
As bizarre as these things are, they are not made up. These are the findings of reputable groups like the Barna Group and others.* Findings like these go a long way toward explaining the low level of living among those who call themselves Christians, as well as why so many fall for the deception of unbiblical teachings.
Why is this happening? It all comes down to the fact that people simply don’t read the Bible. If you were to talk to ten Christians, you might find three or four who have read the Bible all the way through. Of those three or four, you might find one or two who hadve read it through more than once. Is it any wonder we have problems?
The other thing is that people refuse to take responsibility for their own spiritual lives. They seem more than content to be spoon fed by the professionals. Some might read through a little devotional book where they see one Bible verse a day. While that is better than nothing, it’s very little more than nothing.
While there are any number of excuses as to why people don’t read their Bibles, I would like to address a couple of the more common ones.
- I don’t have time.
Really? We have time to sit on our phones, or at our computers, and scroll through endless Facebook statuses, Tweets, news feeds, sports feeds, etc., but we don’t have time to engage in the one thing that would seriously enrich our spiritual lives.
- I can’t understand it.
This excuse has a little bit of merit. I get it. The Bible is an ancient book, written from a largely Middle Eastern perspective, involving all kinds of things that we in the West are largely unfamiliar with. Add to that the fact that it isn’t exactly put together in a chronological order. However, the truth it contains speaks to people of every generation and civilization. Plus, the more you read it, the more you begin to see how it fits together as a unified whole. Trust me when I say that understanding comes as a result of diligent pursuit.
- It’s boring.
This reveals a heart issue. How can a book written under the direction of our Creator/King ever be boring? Finding the Bible boring usually stems from reading it for the wrong reasons. If you are reading the Bible because you think you have to, or because God will be mad at you if you don’t, you are setting yourself up for failure. On the other hand, if you are reading the Bible to get to know the Lord better, searching for Him in its pages like you would hunt for buried treasure, it will no longer be boring. Instead, it will be come a thrilling opportunity for discovery.
While I’m sure there are many other excuses people have for not reading their Bibles, these are some of the main ones. However, it all comes down to this: One day, you and I are going to stand before the King to give an account of our lives. If He looks us in the eyes and asks, “Why didn’t you read My book?”, what excuse do you think we could give that would really satisfy Him? I’m done making excuses. How about you?
We should take biblical illiteracy seriously. Because of the tremendous access we have to the Scriptures, it is my personal conviction that we in the West will be held more accountable than other who don’t. The Lord put some serious time and effort into making sure we had His book in our language. It’s only right that we put some serious effort into ingesting its contents. Bible reading is a required component for anyone truly intent on living in the Reign.
*Albert Mohler, The Scandal of Biblical Illiteracy: It’s Our Problem, January 20, 2016