Why do people ask me what my favourite Bible verse is? I just don’t get it. Is it some type of spiritual test, to see if I am good enough?
The Bible is a universal book. Each person reacts to it differently. It feels a little weird to me to single one verse out for special treatment. What strikes me as crucial one day might not have the same meaning to me tomorrow.
That question though got me to thinking about the biblical literacy of the people around me. I wasn’t impressed.
There is a publication called The Shepherd’s Guide that is published annually in many Canadian cities. I have mixed feelings about it. It is a business directory targeted towards Christians, listing companies and services that if not run by Christians are at least looking for Christian clients. The idea, I presume, is to do business with like-minded people.
I suppose there is nothing wrong with that, you can buy from whomever you want. But I must confess, when my furnace breaks down it is response time and competence of the repair person that is foremost in my mind, not whether they are theologically correct.
Any print publication needs filler for those spaces where ads aren’t sold. Your local newspaper has lots of them, but unless you work in the business you are unlikely to spot them, adds that the advertiser doesn’t actually pay for that are there to fill a required space. A few years ago, back when I was with CHRI-FM the local Shepherd’s Guide decided it would fill those spaces with profiles of the radio station’s on-air personnel.
As I recently stated in a questionnaire I had to fill out, one of my pet peeves is filling out questionnaires. So you can imagine how thrilled I was to have to list things like favourite musical artist (which can vary depending on the day) and how many children I have (does my daughter-in-law count?).
Then I came to the question about favourite Bible verse. I couldn’t resist, I said it was Hezekiah 4:12. The next question was “why is that your favourite verse?” My response? “Because it shows God’s sense of humour.”
They printed it, thousands of copies. My responses were there for a year, until the next edition was published. Not once during that year did anyone ask me about the verse, or point out that there is no book of Hezekiah in the Bible. Did no-one read it (a possibility I certainly considered)? Or is the level of biblical literacy just that low? Perhaps both.
Certainly the people who published the Shepherd’s Guide read it – I didn’t provide an electronic version, so someone had to re-type my answers. But they missed it. That is kind of sad really, but I got a certain feeling of satisfaction out of it.
By the way, my friend Steve Bell when asked that question has a different response. His favourite verse, he tells the questioner, is from the Old Testament book of Proverbs and reads: May you rejoice in the wife of your youth…. may her breasts satisfy you always.”
I think that causes most people to change the topic pretty quickly. It’s amazing what you can find in the Bible if you take time to read it. Sadly, most people don’t.