The Joy of Biblical Ignorance

I found myself in a church last weekend for the first time in 16 years.    It was quite the coincidence, since I’m currently doing research for a novel I’m writing whose main character decides to pick a fight with God.

I listened to every word the preacher said in his sermon, looking for some sort of divine message that was by God’s design meant specifically for me.  Didn’t quite get there.  Not the preachers fault.  I looked for distractions that would help me stay awake during the service and I picked up the Bible that was tucked away in the pew in front of me.  That’s when I found my profound moment, and it wasn’t necessarily a good one.

I held the Bible, opened it up, flipped through the pages and realized that the book I was holding in my hands is the pillar, the cornerstone, the very basis of civilized society.  There’s a lot of quotes from God himself in that book.  We’ve built a nation under God.  We swear on the bible in Court before we make testimony.  Truth is, I’m more familiar with Dr. Suess’s “Green Eggs and Ham” than I am with the contents of the bible.

Sure, I have the usual back-story reasonably down pat.  I know about Adam and Eve, Noah, the Ten Commandments and have a fairly decent grasp on the New Testament. That’s not what bothers me.  What bothers me is that I have not personally taken the time to read the whole Bible, front to back, and draw my own conclusions about what’s in there.

Here in my hand is the most important book ever written–and I bet few will argue that point–and I’ve never read it.  I looked around at the people in the church and wondered how many of them had read it themselves.  I’m not talking about being able to quote John 3:16.  I’m talking about really sitting down and reading it, cover to cover like a novel.  I’d bet very few.

As the service continued, two plates were passed around for communion.  One plate had small crackers–the Body of Christ, and the other had small plastic cups of wine–the Blood of Christ. People quietly ate and drank our Savior without a sound.  Where was the Spirit in this?  Where was the reverence?  People took this as casually as eating  Animal Crackers and Kool-Aid. In my mind, if you’re eating the body of Christ and drinking his blood, you should be quaking from this experience.  It should be one of the most profound and moving experiences you can partake in.  Instead, it was just another ritual.

I sat and wondered what this ritual of going to church really means.   Is it just a routine?  Can’t I worship God in my home. Do I have to come here to be saved?  Is this just something to do on Sundays before the game that makes people feel better?  How many people at church are just going through the motions?

Here’s what I decided to do.  I’m going to read the Bible. I’ve already started and let me tell you it’s one whopper of a read.  I finished Genesis.  Here’s what I used to think about Genesis.  God created stuff, including Man.  Eve ate the Apple and screwed things up for everybody.  Noah built an Ark, and all indications from the cartoon depictions I’ve seen showed that Noah was pretty happy about it.  Abraham had tons of sons.  I think most people have about the same knowledge base.

Here’s what I didn’t expect to find in Genesis.  Murder, rape, incest, polygamy, drunkenness, prostitution, theft, mass destruction and more.   Wow!  I was completely caught off guard, and Genesis is only the first book.

No worries, I’m not going to become a Bible-thumper, but I am going to have a weekly Bible for Beer Drinkers review.  I need to get as familiar with the most important book ever written as I am with “Green Eggs and Ham.”

Cheers!

Jim

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