How that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets. (Ephesians 3:3-5)
The Joy Of Reading
There is a fundamental part of life that almost everyone takes for granted: the ability to read. Few if any take thought over the power of being able to read although for many cultures this is not the case. There was a time in years past that many people did not know how to read. Public education was not common and any knowledge children gained was from working on the farm or in industrial mills in large cities. When America was largely an agricultural community, schools where a part of every community but few were able to spend time away from the farm to learn reading, writing, and arithmetic (more commonly referred to as the three “R’s”.)
With public education compulsory, reading is a gift that is as normal as breathing and yet the most underrated ability used by man. One of the most significant inventions in the history of humanity was Guttenberg’s printing press in 1436. It allowed for the printed word to more easily produced including the publication of the Bible but in this time, few could read and fewer could read the language of the Bible: Latin. Through the years (and under great persecution), the Bible was printed in English and other languages to where it is the most read book in the world today translated into every known language. It is also the least-read book in the world.
The advent of technology has blessed the world with incredible inventions. In the digital age, the printed word has fallen on hard times. Bookstores have closed, and newspapers in print struggle to stay profitable and children grow up seldom opening a book to read. The days when libraries teemed with curious seekers of knowledge are gone. Reading is a byword that allows for the commerce of business and entertainment to prosper but the reading of the Bible is becoming a lost art. Churches are filled with people who sit passively listening to the preacher without opening the Bible to follow along. The art of note-taking has disappeared. Few keep notes of sermons or classes anymore. As the prophet Hosea declared, the people of God are destroyed by a lack of knowledge.
When Paul wrote his letter to the saints in Ephesus, he explained that what he had received from the Lord, he wrote down in a few words so they could read and understand a mystery hidden since the beginning of time. It should not be lost in the incredible blessing of being able to read the mystery of God and understand things hidden for millennia. Reading is a powerful tool to enlighten the soul of the word of God. It is the vehicle that takes the mind of God and plants the seed of eternal knowledge within the heart of a man. The Bible is printed in so many different forms and fashions today that few homes do not possess multiple copies. How often are the pages opened and read? That is the key to who we are, what we are, and what we can become. The greatest avenue to take the knowledge of the divine into our hearts is to read the word of God. How simple and yet how powerful a thought.
There is a great hymn that says “Take time to be holy.” Feeding on the word of the Lord takes time and reading is how that word can be imparted. There is value in listening to the word but there is greater value in allowing the eyes to fill the pages of God’s word in our minds and our hearts. I am old fashioned for a reason but I believe the printed page is the most effective manner to read. There is a connection with the hand and the book. Palm oil is the most powerful means to preserve a book. Pages worn from reading tell about a life that is worn the cross of Jesus on the heart. The Bible is a pearl of great price that should be treasured not because of the material that binds its cover but the treasure that is found when the pages are opened and read. Paul said that we can read what he wrote and we can understand the mystery. Lord – let me read.
You mention that the printed version of the Word is the most valuable. What do you think about social media replacing human interactions (ever see a group of kids at a table and they are looking not at each other but at their smart phones)? What about tech giants such as Facebook, Google and Twitter censoring conservative Christians? Where do you think Artificial Intelligence and Robotics assuming great power? Just keep praying and believing I guess.
You make a good point David as the modern world is more in tune with social media platforms than the printed word. For a large part social media has replaced human interaction and not always for the best. As with all things created by man, there is a ceiling where the impact of manmade creations fail and while we have convinced ourselves the technological world will never end – there is no guarantee. I am not suggesting some Armageddon where the world is taken over by Sky-Net or that what we have become accustomed to will always be here. Just imagine what a giant sun flare does to the power grid. Paul told the Athenians in Acts 16 the habitation of man is determined and he will go no further than God allows. How long this modern world will continue to run with technology is uncertain. One thing is certain – nothing is certain in this world. That is why trusting in God is the only way to view life. The world changes but God does not.