As far as I can tell, Bible Appreciation Month was the brain child of Sirius-XM radio’s Christian station, The Message. This is their fifth year of celebrating the Bible all March long by having many of the artists that they play come on the air and share their favorite passages of scripture. The trend is taking off beyond the Message station; other Christian radio stations, bloggers, devotional writers, and churches have joined in declaring March to be Bible Appreciation Month. So I’m jumping on the bandwagon, because I love me some Bible…
Why have a “Bible Appreciation Month”? Shouldn’t we appreciate the Bible EVERY month?
– Of course we should! But just like Valentine’s Day reminds us to pause our busyness to appreciate our sweetheart, Bible Appreciation Month reminds us to stop and think about just how much it means to us to have the word of God.
Can you imagine how far Christianity would have gotten without God’s roadmap to lead us? It’s pretty safe to assume that a generation or two after Jesus’ life on Earth, people’s views and practices would have gotten really far from the original plan, and it’s likely that most people would have reverted to their former pagan practices. I mean, we’ve wandered all over theologically WITH the Bible in hand. I can’t imagine how much further we would have strayed without it!
For me as a historian, the Bible and literacy go hand-in-hand. For hundreds of years in the western world, very few people were literate. The clergy and nobility had a monopoly on written information, and most works, including the Bible, were available only in Latin (the language of intellect and class). The lower classes just had to take their word for it, and many corrupt nobles and clergy took advantage of that monopoly.
As literacy spread, so did new ideas about the practice of the Christian faith. Martin Luther’s reforming work coincided neatly with the invention of the printing press and the expansion of literacy among the non-nobility. One of the things he pushed for was having the Bible printed in the common language of the people rather than just Latin. I imagine that this was a whole new world for the common man. Reading opens so many doors. As I’ve said a million times, if you can read, you can learn anything.
At least a portion of the Bible has been translated into nearly 5000 languages over the centuries (estimates vary because there isn’t one central clearinghouse for Bible translation). People in every corner of the world have access to God’s word in a language they understand. It is the best-selling book of all time. It contains law that guides nations, history that lines up with other sources and verifies the literalness of much of the text, beautiful poetry, powerful prophecy and the fulfillment of many prophecies, romance, drama, tragedy, and more. It offers us a glimpse into the mind and heart of God himself. It works as a mirror, revealing our own shortcomings, as well as a comfort in our troubles. Clearly, as I said, I’m smitten…
My favorite book of the Bible is James. It’s so practical and clear-cut. And I’m not going to lie, “watch your mouth” is something I need to read once in a while… I love Proverbs for the same reason. It’s hands-on, real-life practical. It reads like a parent instructing a child about to head into the world. The gospels are amazing because, Jesus. (Need I say more?) Verse-wise, I think my favorite is the prophecy in Isaiah 61:1-3:
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good
news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release
from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of
vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.
In this passage, Isaiah is pointing to the coming Messiah, Jesus. It’s like a mini-job description of what Jesus would do on this Earth, and in Luke 4, Jesus announces himself as the messiah at the temple in his home town of Nazareth by reading this passage and then telling the people, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” If that’s a description of Jesus’ calling, that means it’s is a description of what Jesus’ followers are called to do. I am called to preach good news to the poor, to care for the brokenhearted and those who are in a period of mourning. I am called to free captives, and shine light in dark places. I am so grateful that it begins with the promise of God’s anointing, because I cannot do all that on my own.
One of my favorite ways to interact with the Bible is through art journaling. This is something I just started in the last year, but it woke up the dormant art geek I was in high school, and I have loved the meditative practice of thinking about a passage while writing and drawing it out. All you need is a piece of paper and your writing/drawing tools of choice. I can’t draw lifelike pictures to save my life, but I love putting color on paper as a means of focusing on the verses. I’ll add a couple pics at the end of this post, and you can see more of my “doodles” at facebook.com/khdoodles if you’re interested. And if you want to give art journaling a try, there are a TON of copy-able fonts and page ideas online.
What other ways do you meditate on God’s word? What are your favorite books of the Bible and/or passages? Leave a comment!