Why People With Bibles Don’t Read Them (3)

This is the third of four posts containing John Piper’s responses to the four main objections Christians most often give to reading 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 third one.

I Go to Church Every Sunday

I was a pastor and I loved it when people listened to my sermons. But something is wrong here. This is serious. If the word of God is coming with power each week, it doesn’t just satisfy hunger, it also creates hunger. I would have felt like a total failure if my people said, “Because of your preaching, we don’t read our Bibles.”

To someone who says the sermon is all I need, my question back would be this: Is it all you want? Why isn’t the meal on Sunday whetting your taste for more on Monday? Why not? It seems to me like we have two issues here. (1) How much of the Bible do we need? (2) How much of the Bible do we want?

Let’s take the second question. Why would you only want one passage a week from the Bible, from someone else? To me that’s like saying: I am in love, my sweetheart writes me every day, and I would like to just read her letters once a week, and I think I would like somebody else to read them for me and give me a digest of what she said. Are you kidding me? To only want to read one love letter a week when she is writing them every day is a sign that something is wrong.

The Bible is an unparalleled love letter to the people of God. The Psalmist says: “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103). It just wouldn’t make any sense for the psalmist to say: “I get a spoonful of honey on Sunday and that is plenty. I don’t want any on Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday or Friday or Saturday.” Instead he said: “Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day” (Psalm 119:97). “More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold” (Psalm 19:10). “If you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God” (Proverbs 2:4–5).

So why would you want only one glimpse a week of this beauty? Only one taste a week of this honey? Only one deposit a week of this silver in your bank? Only one letter from your lover?

I think I can say from experience, from history, and from the Bible: Every Christian needs more spiritual food than one meal a week. That doesn’t work physically; it doesn’t work spiritually. Temptations are too relentless. Doubt is too frequent. Satan is too active. Tribulations are too heavy. Conflicts are too many. Emotions are too volatile. Perplexities are too difficult. Faith, hope, and love are too threatened, to think I can deal with these all week long simply from one word I got on Sunday. I can’t do it. And I don’t think anybody can.