THERE it was, in the drawer of the bedside table, as expected. Navy cover, crisp untouched pages and the Gideon logo embossed in gold. A copy of the Bible was found in many of the hotels we stayed at during our recent New Zealand holiday.
Not Harry Potter, Fifty Shades of Grey or even Pride and Prejudice. But this book that has been in print since the 1400s, circulated as an oral tradition prior, and continues to trump all other literature in the volume of books sold each year.
It is widely acknowledged as the best-selling book of all time.
The Guinness Book of World Records names the Bible as the best-selling book of non-fiction with more than 17 million copies sold of the Good News version to 1995 alone. It has been translated into 349 languages and 2,123 languages have at least one book in their tongue.
Many are sold, but few read it, so it seems.
Sadly, statistics reveal that Bible reading amongst church-goers is abysmal at best. The latest National Church Life Survey reveals that 19 per cent of church attendees actually read their bible daily or “most days”. The survey of 500,000 people also concluded that 12 per cent read the bible a few times a week, 5 per cent once a week, 27 per cent occasionally and 37 per cent hardly ever, or never. Another study by the Centre for Bible Engagement says that there is a prevailing perception that the Bible is not important to everyday life.
Hmm. I hear that often enough and I beg to differ.
I couldn’t tell you how many times I have opened my Bible, read a few lines and felt like God was speaking directly to me, in my unique situation.
Irrelevant, they say.
Verses have told me to be bold, throw off fear, focus on good, demonstrate love.
A book of folklore and fairytales, they say.
Jesus’ words from thousands of years past have acted like a balm on old wounds.
Nothing but stuffy rules and traditions, they say.
The Bible is perhaps more misunderstood than ever.
Today marks day one of The Bible Society’s campaign to encourage people to give the good book a second (or third or 10th or 186th) chance. Live Light in 25 Words gives people tools to delve into the Word, to rediscover truths of freedom, hope, love and peace in its pages.
The idea is to build a habit over October’s 31 days by reading the bible with some familiar faces – Masterchef 2011 winner Kate Bracks, Olympic swimmer Elka Whalan, popular blogger Erica Bartle to name a few (and, er, maybe my face is in the mix too…)
Just 25 words each day from the Bible and I guarantee your life will be altered.
Click here and sign up to receive daily motivation via your choice of a range of different formats.
In John 6:63, Jesus says this: “It is not the flesh that gives a person life. It is the spirit that gives life. The words I told you are spirit, and so they give life” (ICB version).
We pay ample attention to the needs of our flesh, what of our spirit?
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As printed in The Examiner Newspaper for Keeping the Faith column, Monday October 1, 2012.