The Bible is the best-selling book in the world.
It is printed, in part or in whole, in 2,800 languages worldwide. On average, 85 percent of U.S. households own a Bible; the average number of Bibles per household is 4.3. Unfortunately, while the Bible is widely owned, it goes largely unstudied:
- Barely one-quarter of adults (27 percent) are confident that Satan exists, even though this is a key teaching of the Bible and something Jesus frequently taught.
- Sixty percent of Americans can’t name five of the Ten Commandments.
- Only 52 percent of young adults knew it was false to say that “Sodom and Gomorrah were married.”
- Fifty percent of Americans, including Christians, can’t name any of the four Gospels.
If the majority of Christians don’t know what the Bible says, we can be sure they also don’t realize what the Bible is for. “It’s a rule book,” some say. “It’s a love letter,” we’ve heard, “from God just to us.”
However, the Bible doesn’t look like a rule book, an instruction manual, or a love letter. It looks like something else altogether. Recognizing what the Bible is will affect how we read it and whether or not we understand it. The introduction to The Jesus Storybook Bible, a children’s book written by author Sally Lloyd-Jones, prosaically sets forth what the Bible is really all about:
God wrote, “I love you” — he wrote it in the sky, and on the earth, and under the sea. He wrote his message everywhere! Because God created everything in his world to reflect him like a mirror — to show us what he is like, to help us know him, to make our hearts sing.
And God put it into words, too, and wrote it in a book called “the Bible.”
Now, some people think the Bible is a book of rules, telling you what you should and shouldn’t do. The Bible certainly does have some rules in it. They show you how life works best. But the Bible isn’t mainly about you and what you should be doing. It’s about God and what he has done.
Other people think the Bible is a book of heroes, showing you people you should copy. The Bible does have some heroes in it, but (as you’ll soon find out) most of the people in the Bible aren’t heroes at all. They make some big mistakes (sometimes on purpose). They get afraid and run away. At times, they are downright mean.
No, the Bible isn’t a book of rules, or a book of heroes. The Bible is most of all a Story. It’s an adventure story about a young Hero who comes from a far country to win back his lost treasure. It’s a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne — everything — to rescue the one he loves. It’s like the most wonderful of fairy tales that has come true in real life!
You see, the best thing about this Story is — it’s true.
There are lots of stories in the Bible, but all the stories are telling one Big Story. The Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them.
It takes the whole Bible to tell this Story. And at the center of the Story, there is a baby. Every Story in the Bible whispers his name. He is like the missing piece in a puzzle — the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together, and suddenly you can see a beautiful picture.
If Lloyd-Jones’ telling of it is correct, then being ignorant of or misunderstanding the Bible is to miss the whole point of life itself! Perhaps we should recall the words of Jesus, who said, “Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).
If we want to live out a biblical worldview in the 21st century, we’ve got to read and understand the Bible. This is a resolution that can change your life — and the world.