A commonly used liturgy spoken after the public reading of scripture in worship goes like this:
(Congregation) Thanks be to God.
The word of God is for the people of God. The word of God is one source of God’s revelation to us. It is dynamic – inspired by God through the Holy Spirit and recorded by people. The Bible itself says that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (II Timothy 3:16, NIV). Not only is it a revelation, but it has a purpose for us.
The Bible is… a book.
Given that basic reality, I didn’t even blink when a friend of mine related to me a problem she was having in tracking down a Bible for her mom. My friend’s mom has terminal cancer, and she is too weak to hold a full-sized Bible. At the same time, smaller, pocket-sized Bibles have way too small of a print for her mom to read easily. Buying individual books of the Bible “a la carte” is very expensive, and in my friend’s endeavors to find a workable solution, one common-sense customer service representative at a Bible publishing house suggested that Ali take a regular Bible and break it up into manageable parts.
I’m a Baptist, and normally the idea of breaking a Bible would send me to my knees in prayer over the soul of the person wanting to do this. However, isn’t a person’s relationship with God more important than a book? I heard a preacher one time say that the Bible ought to be our top priority as Christians. I’m not sure which seminary he attended, but the “heretical heathens” at Campbell Div (a Baptist divinity school) emphasized a relationship with God as our top priority, followed closely by love for God’s people. But what do I know? I’m just a minister.
Anyway, if we as a Bible-believing people are going to assert that the Bible is the word of God for the people of God, then that means we should do all we can to give God’s children access to the pages of the scriptures. My friend initially balked at the idea of defacing or destroying a sacred text, but it is for a good cause. It is for her dying mother to be able to read the scriptures for herself, and I can think of no reason more beautiful, more appropriate or more holy.
The word of God for the people of God. Thanks be to God.
- Be careful, little tongue: words and Bible truth (fellowshiproom.org)
- How to Study the Bible and Grow Closer to God (journalmissionalliving.wordpress.com)