Why People With Bibles Don’t Read Them (1)

I have a passion–no, make that, I am desperate to see Christians read their Bibles: for fellowship with God, for absorbing God’s worldview, for gaining marching orders, for bringing hope to anxiety and fear, and for wisdom-shaping in a foolish world.  But I am a realist.  I know there are some, perhaps many who own God’s Word in their own language, a copy translated in a very understandable way, who carry it to and from worship, but who–when they look for it to take to church the next week, ask, “Now where did I put that when I came home from church last week?”  The people at Desiring God have singled out the objections Christians most frequently make when explaining why they don’t read their Bibles.

  1. . . . it seems so irrelevant to my life.”
  2. . . . I don’t have time.”
  3. . . . I go to church every Sunday.”
  4. . . . I find it confusing.”

John Piper has given thought-provoking responses to each and  I’ll post one in each of this week’s blog entries.  Here’s his answer to the first one:

It seems so irrelevant to my life

One thing I know in response to this question, another thing I don’t know. What I know is that the Bible is relevant to this person’s average day where he lives and works. What I don’t know is what are his personal goals in life and work. And the reason that matters is that you can have goals at work or in life which will put you so out of sync with the Bible that you find the Bible to be annoying or condemning or boring, because its teaching runs in a different direction from the direction you are going.

I know the Bible is relevant to this person’s daily life. He says he doesn’t feel like it is. I know it is. The Bible says, “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). The Bible says: “render service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord” (Ephesians 6:7–8).

So here are ten questions to ask about work.

Question 1: Are you ever tempted to grumble or complain at work? Philippians 2:15–16 is relevant, and shows a glorious way to live without grumbling.

Question 2: Are you ever tempted to be greedy at work and take something that is not yours? The Bible has lots to say about covetousness and greed and stealing and how to be so content in Christ that you are free at work to be generous.

Question 3: Are you ever tempted to be worried or anxious at work? Everyone is. And the Bible talks about this fear almost as much as it does anything. The most common command in the Bible is “fear not.” For anybody who has any fears at work, the Bible is relevant.

Question 4: Are you ever tempted to brag or boast or draw attention to yourself and to your superiority in some area? The Bible is full of wisdom about pride and humility and the effect it has on relationships.

Question 5: Are you ever tempted at work to be angry with anybody? Do you deal with temper issues? Are there strained relationships because you are frustrated with other people? The Bible deals over and over again with the issue of anger and goes a lot deeper in that issue than any psychology can today.

Question 6: Are you ever tempted to cut corners at work, to punch out early, to come in late, to work halfheartedly? The Bible is also relevant to the quality of our work.

Question 7: Are you ever tempted sexually at work by lust? The Bible is full of relevant material on a robust view of sexuality that puts it all in a good perspective and a proper place.

Question 8: Are you ever tempted to feel sorry for yourself at work, to lick your own wounds because someone spoke evil of you, or because you got passed over for a promotion? The Bible is shot through with dynamics of life that help us deal with self-pity.

Question 9: Do you ever struggle with guilt at work, feelings that just come over you that are a vague sense that you are not as good as you should be, or maybe you really failed at something you should have succeeded at by your own standards? Accept the ultimate remedy given in the Bible for guilt.

Question 10: Are there lost people at work that you care about, that you don’t want to go to hell? Where are you going to get help for dealing with them in the hope of giving them life except in the Bible? And where are you going to get strength and courage and boldness and wisdom for how to do it?

The Bible is relevant for the life and work of any man. But really it comes down to this. Does he want to see the greatest treasure in the universe? Does he desire to know Jesus and enjoy Jesus more than anything? Does he love people so much that he grieves over the fact that they don’t know Jesus and will be lost forever without him? That is the question. If Jesus is supreme in this person’s life, if the passion is to know him above all, if the passion is to desire him and enjoy him and treasure him more than anything, if the passion is to bring as many people with you as you can into that experience, then you can’t live without the Bible. It is the most relevant book in the world.