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The Best Seller That Nobody Reads (published in The Tribune 11/12/11)

posted Sep 7, 2013, 1:17 PM by Fccea Webmaster
Two congressmen had a heated argument. One said, "Ill bet $25 you don't know the first words of the Constitution!" "Just watch," the other replied. "I pledge allegiance to the United States . . ." The first congressman confessed, "I didnt think you'd know it," and handed over $25.

That's rather like the knowledge most of us have of the Bible -- second-hand and badly garbled at best.

We are like the new pastor who visited Sunday school one morning to see how the students were doing. He asked, "Who knocked down the walls of Jericho?" Timmy answered, "It sure wasnt me, Pastor." The pastor eyed the teacher who replied, "Now, Pastor, Timmy doesn't tell lies. If he says he didnt do it, he didnt do it." Thoroughly disappointed, the pastor took the matter to the church board. After due consideration, they recommended: "We see no point in making an issue of this incident. The board will pay damages to the wall and charge it off to vandalism."

The truth is, it's easy to miss the beautiful multi-faceted presentation of the greatest message ever -- the message of hope in Jesus Christ.

Jesus, Himself, on the day of His resurrection, met two disciples returning home in despair, their hopes having been dashed by His death. They didnt recognize Him right off. Too busy hanging their heads, I suppose. So, He said, "Look guys, its me. Jesus. I'm alive. See my face. See the scars. Its me! I'm back!" That's what I would have done! But, remarkably, it's not what Jesus did.

Jesus preached a sermon. What a sermon it must been. Luke tells us, And he said to them, "'O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?' And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself" (Luke 24:25-27). The message of the Bible? Its Jesus -- and how through His life, death and resurrection He provides salvation that can't be earned or found any other way. It's a precious message of God's love exemplified in His own Son.

And it's a living message. These disciples, after they recognized Jesus, later report, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?" (Luke 24:32). When seriously pursued, the Word burns its way into our very existence with living power.

Chuck Colson tells of a young man who was called out of a Prison Fellowship Bible study at the Delaware State Prison. Fearing the worst, he was taken before a judge who unexpectedly told him, "Young man, I've been reading your records. I've decided to reduce your sentence to time served. You're free to go. Good luck." The young man was speechless for a moment but then he said, "Thank you, your Honor. But, sir, can I stay in prison for the rest of the week to finish the Bible study I've been in." Hard to believe, but that's the power of the Word once we get into it and let it get into us.

The English poet, Elizabeth Barrett Browning married her colleague, Robert Browning, over the strong disapproval of her parents. Weekly thereafter, Elizabeth wrote letters to them seeking a reconciliation. One day, after ten long years, a box arrived in the mail. She opened it, and to her dismay found every letter she had written to her parents. Not one of them had ever been opened.

Rather like the average of 4.5 Bibles that sit in American homes. Best sellers that nobody reads. Love letters from a gracious Creator -- powerless to transform broken lives because they are unwanted, unappreciated, and unopened. How will we ever explain that to Him?

Dave McNeff is pastor of the First Congregational Church of Eaton/Ault

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