The other day one of my friends posted a little rant on social media. Okay, “rant” may be overstating it. But it did spark a little bit of criticism. Here it is:
I hate when people say, “The Bible says.” The Bible doesn’t say anything. It’s a book and it can’t talk.
Okay, so he’s wrong. And for more than one reason. I’ll give you two. First of all, we all know the phrase “The Bible says” is a euphemism, a little wordplay, if you will. It’s just another way of saying, “What is written in the Bible is…”
But it’s a completely acceptable phrase. Do you know why? Because people say the following phrases daily and only a jerk would correct them:
“What’s Wikipedia say about that?”
“My weather app told me it was going to be cold today.”
“Those cupcakes are calling my name!”
None of those are technically, literally true. But they are functionally true. If you take the phrase “The Bible says” literally, you’re just trolling people.
But there’s another reason that line of thought is wrong. And this one is even more powerful. He’s wrong in saying that the Bible doesn’t talk because…it most certainly does.
Let me explain.
(And I bet you’re dying to hear my explanation as to how a Bible can actually talk.)
Raise your hand if you’ve ever smuggled contraband into a foreign country. I know you can’t see me, but please rest assured my hand is raised high.
I was leading a mission trip overseas. I won’t bore you with the details of the country (for fear of reprisal by several international policing organizations), but let’s just say they don’t take too kindly to Christians traveling to their country with the express purpose of telling others about Jesus. About a week before I left, I was called into the office of another pastor on staff.
“Hey, Chris. Do you have room in your suitcase?” he asked me.
“For what?” I mean, sure I had room in my suitcase. But why was he so interested in how many socks and underwear I was taking.
“I need you to leave some space for this.”
He then held up a zip lock bag, opaque with worn edges. Not sketchy at all, no. It was almost bursting at the seams. I just gave him a blank stare. The sort of stare I would give a pastor who just asked me to smuggle drugs into a foreign country. Because that is 100% how it looked like.
He then opened the bag and proceeded to dump the contents out on his desk. Nope, it wasn’t a bunch of weed or little packets of white powder. It was several MP3 players. They looked like cheap, knock off iPods. Really? Black market electronics?
“These are some very neat devices,” he told me. He pushed a button and it played some music in a language I wasn’t familiar with, but which I would hear a lot over the next few weeks overseas. “Watch this,” he said, and then flipped a hidden switch in the battery case. It started playing a man’s voice. Droning on and on in that same language.
What was going on?
“These are little MP3 players that play prerecorded music. No biggee. If they ask you about them, just say you’re brining them to a friend. They’ll probably ask you to pay a small fee, but that’s fine. Nothing to worry about.
“But once you deliver them, our friends will be taking them out to some villages in the far remote parts of the country. Places you won’t be going. But they can. And they’ll be handing these off to some of our Christian friends there. You see, when you flip this switch, it plays the Bible. The entire Bible, all recorded in their language.”
Contraband! Black market electronics! The Bible!
And guess what…it speaks!
All over the world there are places you and I will never go. But the Bible will. The Bible will travel in a bag or suitcase of a brave soul. It will slide under the nose of a customs agent and slip into the pocket of a local friend. It will journey to the heart of the unreached. It will find a home in a hut or a house or an apartment. It will sit down on the floor while those who have never heard about Jesus circle around.
And then it will speak.
That big black Bible you’ve got on your nightstand won’t talk. Not really. Not literally. It takes some action on your part. But all around the world, the Bible is speaking. Where books are burned and printing presses are shut down, technology is doing amazing things. And while you and I may take our unfettered access to faith for granted, there are others who take it in. They risk their lives to bring that speaking word to others.
You’re right. A book can’t talk. But the Bible can, and it is. Every day that you enjoy your freedoms there are some who risk jail or worse for their faith. Here in America, the Bible lays silent most days. But over there, in the midst of oppression, it speaks loud and clear. Can you hear it?