Recently a survey was conducted within Australia to see how often people who attended church read their Bibles. Amongst those surveyed, it was found that only 21% read the Bible every day; 14% read it a few times per week; 6% read it once per week; 24% occasionally, and 35% read it “never, or hardly ever”.
Knowing how people answer surveys, let us round the figures to make it simple –
20% read the Bible daily, or 1 person in 5;
20% read it once or a few times weekly;
60% don’t read it, or 3 out of every 5.
This is in Australia where everyone is taught to read! This is amongst those who attend church! It reminds me of a lady who had attended church services diligently for more than 80 years, and could not even find Luke’s Gospel when she came to our Bible study.
The apostle Paul exhorted Timothy (1 Tim.4:13) “… give thyself to reading, to exhortation, to teaching”. This word is the one for reading aloud. Perhaps it had special application for those who were unable to read. At this time in history in the western world, we enjoy a great privilege in being able to read. It is only relatively recently that everyone has had access to free education. It was only 129 years ago that schooling became compulsory in my state in Australia.
With privilege comes responsibility. The French have a phrase for it: “Noblesse oblige”. The Lord stated it formally in Luke 12:48:”And to every one to whom much has been given, much shall be required from him”. What do we spend our time reading, or watching?
If I offered you an old book that pointed the way to enormous treasure, you would pore over it; you would have others with you in little groups gathered around it at night; there would be questions – what does this word mean? There would be research. And there would be no problems with “thou”, “thee” and “thy”. But when the God of the universe publishes His mind – His purposes, His ways with mankind - past, present and future - His dealings with the world, His way of salvation, and judgment and glory to come, what do we do? Even many Christians apparently neglect it. Sad. Forbid them access to it, and they will want it! When we can meet freely, many neglect to do so. Prohibit gathering, and Christians will meet in basements or in forests, at any hour of the day!
Someone will say: “But I cannot understand it?” The more you read the more you will find in it. If you have desire, the Lord will answer it by opening your understanding. “Think of what I say, for the Lord will give thee understanding in all things”, 2 Tim. 4:7. Even if in the early stages you do not have the whole scope of things, the Holy Spirit can give you impressions.When Bibles were rare in one Communist country, each member of a church had only one page. A brother felt sorry for another who had a page of the prophet Jeremiah, so he offered to swap his page in Luke for it. He refused to part with it. “No, no” he said, “It says here that ‘The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah’. If it came to Jeremiah, it can come to me”. That impression meant a lot to him.
MM December 2009