Ah! Remember those heady days when we shook hands and inwardly laughed at the Asian tourists who wore masks? It seems years ago, but it was only March 2020. How we long to return, to undo all that Covid has done. Some still look forward to the day when “all this is over.” But will it be? Will it ever really be ‘over?’
Epidemiologists define ‘over’ in two different ways. First there is disease elimination. Elimination means zero cases in a defined geographic area. Elimination is ‘over’ with a small ‘o.’ Elimination does not mean the disease is gone, just inactive in a particular region. Eradication is what we want. Eradication means zero cases world-wide following deliberate efforts to prevent and treat a disease. The only human disease considered eradicated is smallpox. And it was only declared to be eradicated in 1980. To be eradicated, a disease must be both preventable and treatable. But we currently have no proven strategies for either when it comes to Covid-19. As with smallpox, eradication, if it were to ever come, is a difficult and distant future reality. Will we every be ‘over’ Covid-19?
Eradication is unlikely. Elimination is probably a distant likelihood. But ‘over’ could come sooner in a different form factor. Most probably being ‘over’ Covid looks like learning to live with it through lifestyle adjustments that become a permanent part of our social intercourse. Practical eradication comes when, though still present, we by and large ignore it. This kind of practical eradication through a willful apathy is probably the best we can achieve in the near term. And while this may be a necessary coping strategy when it comes to Covid, it is deadly when it comes to Scripture.
Since the dawn of time, ungodly tyrants have sought to eradicate scripture. Yet, no matter how often it has been confiscated or burned, God’s Word will not be silenced. The Bible is eradication-proof and proves Newton’s third law, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Every attempt to forcibly eradicate the Bible only caused it to proliferate. Though practical eradication does occur. Like Covid, learning to coexist with the Bible, while largely ignoring it, provides a kind of practical inoculation against its truths. Unfortunately, this is reflective of our society today.
In his article, The Scandal of Biblical Illiteracy, Al Mohler concludes.
While America’s evangelical Christians are rightly concerned about the secular worldview’s rejection of biblical Christianity, we ought to give some urgent attention to a problem much closer to home–biblical illiteracy in the church. This scandalous problem is our own, and it’s up to us to fix it.
Researchers George Gallup and Jim Castelli put the problem squarely: “Americans revere the Bible–but, by and large, they don’t read it. And because they don’t read it, they have become a nation of biblical illiterates.”
Christians who lack biblical knowledge are the products of churches that marginalize biblical knowledge. Bible teaching now often accounts for only a diminishing fraction of the local congregation’s time and attention.
We will not believe more than we know, and we will not live higher than our beliefs. The many fronts of Christian compromise in this generation can be directly traced to biblical illiteracy in the pews and the absence of biblical preaching and teaching in our homes and churches.
In Jeremiah 36 we find the terrible picture of Judah’s King Jehoiakim, burning the words of the Prophet Jeremiah. He was not open to what God’s Word had to say. But he was not the only one. The people of his time neither listened, nor inclined their ears to hear God’s word through the prophets. “Neither the king nor any of his servants who heard all these words was afraid, nor did they tear their garments.” When God’s people have little concern for God’s Word, disaster cannot be far behind. The people of Jeremiah’s day only wanted positive messages. Words of sin, judgment, and wrath, were not what they wanted to hear. While Jehoiakim’s Bible burning shocks us, what should shock us more is that the people who heard all these words were not afraid, nor did they think God’s Word applied to them.
It is easy to sit in judgement on Jeremiah’s generation, but how different are we? How careful are we to hear and heed God’s Word? We have more flavors of the Bible than Baskin-Robbins has ice-cream. God’s word has never been more accessible. Mao and Stalin and Voltaire tried their best to eradicate it, but could not. But what Mao, Stalin, and Voltaire could never accomplish, the Church effects through growing ignorance. We profess to be a ‘people of the book,’ but is the Bible authoritative and sufficient in our lives? The response of Judah’s king and Judah’s people to the word of God offer a warning and challenge – how careful have we been to love and live God’s Word?
Join us this Lord’s Day as we examine Jeremiah 36 and consider faithful and unfaithful responses to God’s Word. We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock for worship. Get directions here or contact us for more info. You can also join us on Facebook Live @RiverCityARP.