Some of us that have had the privilege of spending time in Zimbabwe on mission trips remark to each other about the beautiful singing of the Africans. Their melodies and harmonies, their rhythm and choreography are very special. The lyrics also have a unique beauty. One of the simple songs we learned from the Africans was entitled, “My Bible and I.”
My Bible and I, My Bible and I.
What a wonderful treasure,
God’s gift without measure.
We are travelling together
My Bible and I.
This year’s “State of the Bible” report from the American Bible Society indicates that fewer Americans are treasuring their Bibles, nor are they traveling through life with the Bible as their guide. The report is 100 pages long – but here are a few snippets.
The report shows that Bible reading is down. Nearly 4 in 10 Americans say they never read the Bible outside of church services or Mass. Another 2 in 10 say their read the Bible on their own no more than twice a year. Those numbers are all down from previous years. Those who read the Bible daily amount to 10% of all Americans. This is a major shift away from personal Bible reading.
Unfortunately, Scripture Engagement is also down. Scripture Engagement is defined as consistent interaction with the Bible that shapes people’s choices and transforms their relationships with God, self, and others. This means that while they may read it, they are not making the jump to application of God’s Word in their lives. The report also found that 26 million Americans reduced or stopped their interaction with Scripture in the past year.
I am happy to report that, while there is major work to do, people understand how the Bible can transform our lives. Those who look to Scripture expect to be brought closer to God. They believe the Bible will help them discern God’s will for their lives, give them wisdom, impart comfort, show them how to treat others, and important information about the nature of God. The report found that 49% of American adults agree with the statement: “The Bible contains everything a person needs to know to live a meaningful life.” That is an important insight and a step in the right direction!
One other thing I found interesting from a positive standpoint: One-third of non-Bible users said they were curious about the Bible and Jesus. We need to capitalize on that. Also, of those who would consider reading the Bible, the number one reason why they do not is, “I don’t know where to begin.” We can help them with that, and give them manageable pieces of Scripture that will speak to their hearts.
Our challenge as those who follow Jesus is to love God’s Word so much and live out the Christian life so effectively that people will want to know what the Bible says. When they come to love the message of the Bible, they will come to love the author of the Bible, Almighty God. Psalm 119:11 says, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”