Two weeks ago now, my HERITAGE Home Group met to talk about what we’d like to study together over the next couple of months. As we talked, we discovered that we simply wanted to know more about the Bible and how to read and understand the Bible for ourselves.
As a pastor, it was refreshing to hear that there’s a hunger for meaningful engagement with scripture—particularly among the younger members of our congregation.
I’ve been thinking about our conversation--and the timing of it--and I've been wondering if there’s something about our present context that would lead to a growing hunger for straightforward engagement with the Bible.
I've come up with two possible driving forces.
A Longing For Something With Enduring Value
First, there's a growing hunger for things that last.
Daily news cycles move so fast now. In today's world, new and often conflicting information competes for our attention, and it comes at us more quickly than we're capable of processing it. And then, before we even have time to evaluate the truth and worth of all we see and hear, the world has moved on to a new and seemingly more incredible outrage.
So is it any wonder that we might be seeing a renewed interest in something of enduring value?
In a “post-truth” world, it’s nice to turn to something--the Bible--whose value and worth are already established. There's comfort in turning to sources and narratives that have stood the test of time.
In a world that moves from one thing to the next so quickly, it’s refreshing to open a book and read a story that has refused to move on for more than 2000 years.
The truth is, even the most insightful and inspiring Bible studies and best-selling Christian books will be hard to find in bookstores a few years from now. They won't last. Fifty years from now few will even be remembered.
But the Bible? The Bible has lasted. And the Bible will endure long into the future. So I think it’s a good thing if there really is a renewed interest in direct engagement with the Bible. I pray there is.
A Scripture-Led Course Correction
I have another reason to hope that we’re seeing a renewed interest in the Bible. Scripture is the only thing that has the power to offer American Christians a much-needed course correction.
For nearly forty years now, at least since Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority, evangelical Christians have allowed our Christian identity to be co-opted by partisan political agendas.
Because we have so reliably aligned ourselves with partisan political operatives and candidates, today we find ourselves in the eye of the storm as political tensions and partisan wrangling reach a fever pitch.
It’s becoming increasingly apparent that many who claim our faith are more energized by partisan politics than engagement with scripture— that as a group we have somehow become more committed to wielding political power than to following a Savior who specifically rejected worldly power as a means to achieving Kingdom objectives.
The allure of political power has always been one of life’s greatest temptations. It’s one of the three things Satan tempted Jesus with at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.
This is from Matthew 4:8-11:
8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; 9 and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written,
‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’”
11 Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.
When tempted with the idolatry of worldly power, Jesus used scripture (Deuteronomy 6:13) to turn the temptation aside.
We would do well to follow Christ’s example. The antidote to Christian alignment with partisan politics is engagement with scripture—more Bible, less talk radio, less cable news.
We Need The Bible Now More Than Ever
For the above reasons--and others--I hope we’re seeing a renewed interest in direct scriptural engagement. I know I’ve been reading my Bible more. I hope you have been, too.
In a post-truth world, the truth contained in the Bible is lasting, real, and increasingly powerful. And, the Bible and the principles it teaches provide a powerful hedge against the great temptations of our time.
There are, of course, many other reasons to re-engage scripture, but these two seem particularly important today.
Next week I’ll outline a twelve-week Bible reading plan. For those of you who would like to commit yourselves to re-engaging scripture with me, I’ve chosen a selection of scriptural “greatest hits." I hope it will get me, and maybe you, off to a good start as we reclaim the Bible and its wisdom together.
See you Sunday.