There’s no denying it: we’re not short on options, especially as a first-world country. Toppings for your pizza, paint colors for your house, packages at the car wash, candidates for governmental office, even church denominations and translations of the Bible. According to the World Christian Database, there are over 9,000 Christian denominations worldwide. And on the Bible app alone, readers can choose from over 60 different versions of the English Bible. As a country, we’re lacking a lot of things (compassion, humility, reverence for God, common sense, etc.), but we’re definitely not short on options.
With so many things vying for our attention, how can we focus on one thing? And when I say focus, I mean focus, not what we refer to as “multi-tasking,” a.k.a. doing two or more things at a time in a mediocre way rather than one thing at a time and doing it well.
Unfortunately, that’s the trap most of us have fallen into, including the Church (Christians as a whole). Gone are the days of simplicity and intentionality, and hello to the time of surplus and chaos. In our homes, in our relationships, in our government and in our churches. We’ve become a people so focused on having all the options and satisfying our every desire, we have neglected the One source of all we will ever need.
The Word of God.
Even in today’s society where many teens and adults identify as “nones” (or religiously unaffiliated), 87% of American households own a Bible (Lifeway Research, 2017). But the positive surprises end there. Despite almost 9 out of 10 American homes owning a Bible, 45% seldom or never read it (Pew Research Center, 2014). Out of that percentage, 27% are Gen Xers (born 1965-1980) and 30% are Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964).
But this isn’t just because the number of nones is on the rise. In the same Pew Research study, out of those who seldom or never read the Bible, only 18% said they didn’t believe in God. On the other hand, 24% viewed religion as “very important” to their lives. What’s more is that out of those who didn’t know how often they read the Bible, 62% claimed religion to be “very important” to them.
If fitness is very important to you, how often do you exercise? If your boy/girlfriend or spouse is very important to you, how often do you spend time with him/her? If earning a paycheck is very important to you, how often do you go to work? If football is very important to you, how often do you catch the game on Sunday?
Even in today's society where many teens and adults identify as "nones" (or religiously unaffiliated), 87% of American households own a Bible (Lifeway Research, 2017).
Why do we place more focus, time and priority on things as temporary (and oftentimes futile) as these; why don’t we dedicate just as much to reading the Word of God?
The Word which has always been and always will be (John 1:1-5). The Word that is alive and sharper than any two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). The Word that is our only defense against the fiery darts of the enemy, Satan (Ephesians 6:17, Matthew 4:4). The Word that is the breath of the One and Only God (2 Timothy 3:16), the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, the God who knew you before you were in your mother’s womb and who knows the names of all the stars in the sky (Psalm 139:13, Psalm 147:4).
That Word, otherwise known as the Bible.
Does your fitness routine matter more than God? Does your significant other matter more than God? Does money matter more than God? Does a football game matter more than God?
I pray your answer is “no” to all four and any other question which asks if something is more important than God. So does that mean we abandon everything and do nothing but read our Bibles? In the words of the apostle Paul, by no means!
Taking care of your body is good, for it is the temple of the Holy Spirit within you for those who believe in Jesus (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Spending time with your spouse is good, for marriage between a man and a woman is a symbol of the relationship between Jesus and His bride, also known as the Church or those who believe in Jesus (Ephesians 5:25). Earning a paycheck is good, for we’re all to support ourselves when able and use the workplace as an avenue in which to serve God (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12, Colossians 3:23-24). Recreational activities are good, for they offer us community and an outlet to appreciate the good things God has given us.
The problem lies within the heart. When health, relationships, money, entertainment or anything else is more important than God, then we have a problem. And yes, this can mean the church too. Not the Church as in the body of Christ, but the church as in the activities, programs and socialization taking place at or facilitated by your church building. If you value going to church because it will make you look good, give you a chance to socialize, have fun or get free stuff, then you have a heart problem. You have a church problem.
If you value going to church because it will make you look good, give you a chance to socialize, have fun or get free stuff, then you have a heart problem. You have a church problem.
Yes, I know it’s easy to get caught up in the blessings and lose sight of the One supplying the blessings. Yes, I know it’s hard to break old habits and thought processes. Yes, I know it’s more comfortable to just stick with the way things are and do what makes you happy. I’m saying this as someone who struggles when it comes to prioritizing God over anything else. The struggle is real, for all of us.
But friends, we’re missing out on so much more. God promises to give us life and give it to us abundantly—both in this life on earth and in the one to come in Heaven (2 Corinthians 9:8, Ephesians 3:20, James 1:17, John 10:10). He promises that all the happiness in this life is just a blip compared to the joy awaiting us with Him in Heaven (2 Timothy 4:8, Matthew 6:19-20, Revelation 21:22-27). He promises us His own heart, even after sacrificing His body to pay for our sins even while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:6-11).
God promises us all this and much more. The only thing He asks for in response (as a recognition and appreciation of His grace, not out of force or demand) is for Him to be the most important thing in our lives (Exodus 20:3; Matthew 10:38-39, 22:37; Deuteronomy 10:12). Once we do that, all we will ever need lies with Him (Philippians 4:19). For it is written, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33 ESV).
Okay, so where do we begin? How do we get back to God’s original intention for mankind and enjoy the many blessings God promises to give us?
The Word of God. The breath of God. God Himself. If we read, value and live the Bible exactly as God intends (note: not as you, your pastor or some evangelist on TV interprets it), we will glorify our Father. And that, my friends, is the greatest thing we could ever do.
Are you ready to get started? Pick up your Bible and let’s go.
English Standard Version Bible. (2001). Crossway Bibles.
LifeWay Research. (2017). Lifeway Research: Americans Are Fond of the Bible, Don’t Actually
Read It. Retrieved from https://lifewayresearch.com/2017/04/25/lifeway-research-
Pew Research Center. (2014). Religious Landscape Study. Retrieved from
Todd M. Johnson and Gina A. Zurlo, eds. World Christian Database (Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2021).
YouVersion. (n.d.) https://www.bible.com/.
This post originally appeared on County News Online.