You may have heard someone refer to the Bible as the “Living Word of God,” or some variant of that. At a time in human history when Mainstream Christianity is atrophying, I find myself wondering why Scripture seems so dead to an entire generate of young adults. In a study completed by the Barna Group in 2013, it was reported that Americans between the ages of 18-28 read the Bible less than three times a year, if they read it at all. That same study discovered that 88 percent of the households who completed the survey report owning a Bible. I suspect there are a lot of neglected and dusty Bibles on shelves and in drawers all over the country. Are we treating the Bible like a piece of memorabilia, a collector’s item?
God always intended for God’s Word to be internalized, becoming part of the very fabric of our beings. We need to read it, so we can know it. We need to know it, so we can live it. At this point many people will immediately think of all the boring or often abused portions of the Bible. I know the long, very long genealogies can seem over the top and filled with names no one wants to even attempt to pronounce, but they all make sense when you read the genealogies at the beginning of the Gospel accounts of Matthew and Luke that trace Jesus all the back to Adam and Abraham. I know the 613 commandments contained in the Torah/Pentateuch/first five books of the Old Testament, and mainly in Leviticus, seem antiquated to say the least, and abhorrent in certain cases, but Jesus illuminates much of that for us, as do the prophetic books crying out for social justice. Do we really case off all 66 books that comprise the Bible because of some admittedly large chunks of difficult to digest portions? Where is the justice to the less read and almost completely uncited texts that celebrate life, turn even our modern societal norms upside down, and expose the injustices we perpetuate? There are a lot of wonderful things to be discovered within the pages of the Bible.
For me, the most crucial things to be gleaned from its pages is this: God loves first and foremost, and God’s love is the only thing that will last. Even sin, evil, suffering, and death will pass away, but God’s love is the eternal constant in all the universe. When we love, loving God and others, then we enliven the text of the Bible. It lives in us, and lives on through us; our lives become the vehicles for that love entering into the world in new and relevant ways. Otherwise the words of Biblical Hebrew and Ancient Greek are meaningless to the everyday lives of modern-day Americans. The wisdom of God’s Word is not limited to the people who first received it and their several subsequent generations afterwards. It has a core truth rooted in the omniscience of God, and the view of all the world from on high in heaven. From there God can see all the way into the hearts of human beings not yet conceived and born. God has never been one to only see the bad, the sinful inclinations that lie in wait there to be unleashed in our lives.
From the very beginning there was this faith in us, a confidence in we who are created in the divine image, that we could make decisions to walk in the ways of the Lord, to turn aside from sin, and embrace the grace God would continuously pour out. That faith is cataloged in every page of the Bible, sometimes in bold text and sometimes whispered in the spaces in between. When we read the Scriptures, and meditate on the divine wisdom therein, we begin to embody that trust God has in us. Perhaps this is how we will once again regain the trust of the future generations, and bring revival to the Church Christ founded to be a means of grace, not gatekeepers of it.