Ten years ago it was said that there were over 33,000 “versions” of Christianity. Today, that number has only increased. Thousands and thousands of groups of people that think their ‘version’ is the right one. How did we get to this place, where people tailor religion to fit their needs, or simply create their own?
A few years ago I was given a new Bible from our church. I’m not quite sure why they gave it to me. I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but I probably own 10 different Bibles, and even more when you consider those I have on my computer, iphone or ipad. Regardless, one was given to me.
It’s the Bible, so yes, it has had a transforming impact on me. However, with this particular Bible, it wasn’t only what was on the inside that grabbed my attention, but also what was on the outside.
When they first gave it to me, I remember thinking the engraved letters looked a little cheesy. It was gold font, with frilly looking letters; definitely not manly. But, it was a small Bible, and that was good. Also, I liked the version – English Standard Version (ESV).
Slowly but surely, this Bible became the one I used the most. Each time I did, that simple engraving on the front caught my attention:
The East Family
God isn’t doing an ongoing transforming work in my heart that begins and ends with me. He is up to something much greater. His work in me impacts those closest to me, and it doesn’t get any closer than my own family.
The way to create yet another version of Christianity (which isn’t really one at all) is to make up your beliefs about who God is – based solely on your own ideas – and pass them on to others. They aren’t grounded in Scripture, but in what people feel is right. Well-meaning parents do it everyday, without ever realizing it.
Reading your Bible won’t make God love you any more or any less. You won’t somehow be on his good side or have earned his favor because of a quick devotional here and there. No, no. When you read the Bible, much more is being accomplished:
1. You are being led to Jesus. Reading the Bible can be dizzying, partly because we don’t understand the simple structure of the Bible, the types of books in the Bible, or the audience to whom certain books were written. In the simplest of terms, sections of Scripture are pointing toward Jesus, others are revealing Jesus, and others are anticipating the return of Jesus.
Listen to what Jesus says:
You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” John 5:39-40
2. You learn more about who you are. I have friends that have referred to themselves as “broken christians” or as “baby christians.” As I dug into why they kept using those terms, I was surprised by what I found. They knew they had trusted Christ, but were almost ashamed to be put in the same category as all those “good christians” around them.
By reading the Bible, you can begin to see what God says about you. Listen to what the Apostle Paul says about all followers of Christ:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17
3. You come to understand more of the mission you’ve stepped into. Christianity isn’t about church attendance. God is at work in this world, and he has invited us to join him. He is reclaiming the hearts of his people, one at a time. Jesus gives us this charge:
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20
Parents, I hope these simple engraved letters on the front of my Bible are a good reminder for you as well. We want our kids to know Jesus, and to walk with Him. We have an awesome responsibility and a unique opportunity to lead them to Him while they are in our homes. I hope you let that work begin in you, and then impact your entire family.
How else is your family impacted by your reading of the Bible?