From the Pastor’s Pen . . .
The entirety of Your word is truth,
And every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever.
Imagine with me, if you will, that there is breaking news this afternoon. Regular programming is interrupted on every major television channel and radio station. An American non-profit research organization commonly referred to as the SETI Institute (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) has just made an astounding announcement: A signal was received approximately six months ago from a distant galaxy that confirmed the existence of advanced extraterrestrial intelligence. Given the distance of this previously undiscovered galaxy from the earth, it can be calculated that the signal originated approximately 1970 years ago. Far more than a simple series of “blips,” astronomers have determined that the massive amount of data received was in the form of a language, two languages actually, that together comprised two rather large volumes of information. Attempts to translate the data have been underway since the first series of signals were received. Teams of linguists, cryptologists, and computer scientists working around the clock, with the assistance of the most advanced super computers at Oak Ridge National Labs, have broken the code and translated the work into English and most other primary languages currently in use around the globe. Today the result of their work—previously kept top secret—is announced and being released to the public in its entirety. It was given a lengthy name as per SETIs naming protocols; however, most of the scientists working on the project simply call it The Book.
Early reports indicate that The Book comprises comprehensive, cohesive accounts of the origins of the universe, the earth, and humanity—some of which challenge current scientific thinking on these subjects. It also includes instruction on humanity’s responsibility for taking care of the planet, guidelines for maintaining social justice, and a solid framework for establishing a robust ethical and judicial system. The Book even provides an extensive analysis of the human experience, with amazing insights into human psychology, interpersonal relationships, and social interaction. It chronicles the intervention of these and other extra-terrestrials in the saga of humanity throughout history. Most explosive of all, however, is the revelation that the extra-terrestrials responsible for The Book will come to planet Earth at a predetermined time to evaluate the state of humanity, make an assessment, and set in order all that is incompatible with the social construct prescribed in the data set.
The above scenario is, of course, pure fiction. But it does not take much imagination to suppose that, were such an event come to pass, internet servers would crash as millions upon millions seek access to The Book for the information it contains. Some would comb through the volumes in search of answers to the mysteries of the universe. Others would search therein for solutions to the plethora of problems plaguing humanity. Governments would begin reassessing their military readiness for the visitation of the extra-terrestrials. Private think tanks and secret government agencies would move into high gear trying to anticipate every possible eventuality. Television personalities, philosophers and theologians, doubters and deniers, would come out of the woodwork pressing their point of view. The Book would become the most widely-read, comprehensively-studied work of the modern era as billions of people around the globe hungrily devoured every word and concept.
News Flash: Such a book exists.
It provides a comprehensive, cohesive account of the origins of the universe, the earth, and humanity—some of which do challenge current scientific thinking on these subjects. It includes instruction on humanity’s responsibility for taking care of the planet, guidelines for maintaining authentic social justice, and a solid framework for establishing a robust ethical and judicial system. It provides an extensive analysis of the human experience, offering insights into human psychology, interpersonal relationships, and social interaction. It chronicles the intervention of beings not of this world (i.e., God, angels, and demons) in the saga of humanity. It even informs us that the divine Author and Creator—the ultimate “extra-terrestrial”—will return to planet Earth, judge the wicked, and establish justice. That book, of course, is the Bible.
Clearly, though, the attention given the Bible these days does not compare with the kind of worldview-altering fascination fictionalized in the opening paragraphs. So why is interest in God’s word, the Bible, so tepid these days? The Bible’s provenance is fully established. Its internal consistency has been thoroughly scrutinized and found to be unassailable. Countless generations have proved its message to be infallible. Its historicity, though often challenged, has been corroborated by new discoveries in archeology and advances in scholarship. Above all, its divine inspiration, claimed internally and confirmed by fulfilled prophecy, guarantees its inerrancy in the original manuscripts. No book of unknown, extra-terrestrial origin could possibly stand up to the scrutiny to which the Bible has been subjected. So again I ask, “Why is interest in the Bible so lukewarm these days?”
It is not the lack of interest among unbelievers that I question. It is the lukewarm, take-it-or-leave-it, attitude that seems to have settled like a dense fog on the minds of Christians that leaves me dumbfounded. Given the stresses of life and the myriad problems in the world these days, how can we not turn to the God-given owners’ manual for life? Where is the hunger for God’s word in these troubled times? Why are Bible studies scarce and sparsely attended? Why are biblical sermons—even the boring ones—not given rapt attention? Why are new believers not eager to learn? Why are mature saints not hungry to know more? In the 40+ years that I have been a serious observer of the heartbeat of the church, never before have I witnessed the degree of disinterest in the study of God’s word that seems to prevail in America these days. There are perhaps still places in the world where people will walk for days just to receive a copy of even a portion of God’s word. Here, there are far too few who are even willing to drive to a Bible study and devote an hour of their time to study the Book that untold thousands have died to preserve. It grieves my heart. How much more must it grieve the heart of God.