There was a strange theme emerge Last Sunday as I was greeting guests in the pastor reception room. Three different persons, two of them with tears, said how wonderful it was to hear a message from the Bible. I assumed that they were not affiliated with any church and were like many at DBBC who were trying out church for the first time or the first time in a long time. Into our conversations I realized they had been attending churches for months and looking for one where they were taught from the Bible. Two were long time believers and one had only recently given her life to Christ after years in another faith. Verbally I thanked them for their affirmation, but mentally I was trying to get a grip on the implications of their statements.
Are there many churches out there who do not teach from the Bible? I don't know. In my position I do not get to vistit other churches as much as I would like. Do they mean that the Bible isn't read at all. I seriously doubt that. Do they mean the Bible is an add-on to the ritual or tradition of the church? I wish I knew. I do think churches have gotten uber-political. That's not from first hand knowledge. It's just an observation from media, and media is not always reliable when it comes to depicting faith in America.
I'm not sure what may be happening. I only report what I hear. What Id do know is that almost every pastor I know loves God's Word and feels an inner urge to share it with others. Maybe I just don't know the pastors of the churches where these people have attended. At least I hope that's the case.
I do know that the family of God always runs the risk of forgetting how important basic Bible teaching is to the health of the community of faith and its individual members. I was readin yesterday in II KIngs 22. It begins with the introduction of "good King Josiah." The Bible declares "he did what was right in the sight of the Lord." (II KIngs 22:2) It seems he had decided it was time to clean out the temple of all the debris that had accumulated their since the evil king Manasseh was on the throne. Manasseh had introduced pagan worship into Judah and even allowed false idols to be erected on the Temple Mount. Josiah gave an order to repair the temple and remove the idols and the false priests. It seems while cleaning the area that Hilkiah, the high priest, found a scroll that had been covered by all the debris. He gave it to Shaphan, the scribe, who gave it to the king. The king asked Shaphan to read to him from the book. When the king heard the words he recognized it as the Word of God. He tore his clothes in remorse. Here's what he recognized and what we should be careful of: When the word of God is neglected it will be replaced with idols created by our own hands. He immediately declared, ""great is the wrath of the Lord that is aroused against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book." (II Kings 22:13)
We may have multiple copies of the Bible in our homes and in our churches, but if they remain neglected we will inevitably face the consequences. While we have argued over dress, music and the non-essentials of our faith, we may have overlooked the one thing that will bring people to our churches and faith in Christ: a high regard for Scripture and it's practical application to our lives.