“Moses.” And I'm right again! But really, of course the answer was Moses. Honestly, who do these people think that I am? I'm 10-years-old and probably know these stories better than Billy Graham himself, or even Jesus.
Twenty-one years later and, through a fog of insomnia and ego, I attempt an online Bible literacy test. Though, “attempt” is probably the wrong word. I demolish it; perfect score. I try another, 100 per cent. And another—the results never vary.
While being king of Bible Trivia does have its advantages at Bible Trivia nights and in debating theological nitpicks, it hasn't been all that useful in helping me follow Jesus. In fact, the more I come to understand the Bible, the more I realize that my Bible trivia is actually quite trivial. Jesus, at a point in His life where the religious trivia champs of His time were plotting to kill Him, answered them with a fierce and pointed statement. His statement would have shocked His audience and has shaped our reading of Scripture ever since:
“You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” (John 5:39-40 NIV)
The Bible, written by statesmen and soldiers, peasants and priests, is the culmination of some 1,600 years worth of writing gathered from about 40 different authors and editors. It is an extensive collection inspired by God and put together by men so that we could know the nature and mission of God. In it God's character, attributes, promises, and, ultimately His Son, Jesus Christ are revealed.
An artist friend of mine says when he thinks or reads he sees colours and images. His mind processes problems and solutions by creating storyboards of pictures strung together like a film running through his head. This, among other things, makes him a slow reader. For him the Bible is full of images and colour. It is a living narrative of background and texture filled with directors' cuts and commentary.
I, on the other hand, devour stacks of books with startling speed and proficiency. I approach the Bible as literature. I see moving poetry, shocking history, interesting personal letters, disturbing biography, and clever parables.
Despite our very different approaches, both my friend and I are able to see Jesus revealed around every corner and hiding behind every hedge of Scripture.
It is here I think the crux of Bible literacy lays. It is easy to think that to know and follow Jesus one must also know and understand the Bible in the same way and by the same method that the trivia champs do. But in reality, each person is wired to digest and respond to Scripture differently. Not only that, in different seasons of life it is totally natural to bring different questions, biases, and study methods to Scripture.
For example, while my go-to method is academic, the biggest question that I've brought to Scripture in the last two years has been, “Is God good?” I understand that He is good, but the sudden and tragic loss of a close family member caused the question to take an emotional life of its own. I know that God is good, but is He really?
Life throws so many curveballs that it's no surprise when we're left reeling with unanswered questions and confusion. And while a self-help aisle, a bottle of Jack, or backpacking through Europe are tempting ways to deal with or ignore the difficult questions of life, it is the Bible that points to the only real source of healing, restoration, and life.
My generation of experience chasers value story and image over and above the written word and are more likely to view the Bible as less accurate and less sacred than the generations before us did. In turn, we've found less engagement with Scripture and are going to it less and less to work out our understandings and worldview.
This is unfortunate considering that the content of Scripture is, at times, shockingly blunt and deals with issues of sexuality, money, authority, grief, gender, pollution, poverty, and the list goes on. The grand story of the Bible—cover to cover—speaks directly to the condition of our messed-up, mixed-up, and punched-up lives and souls. The Bible speaks to issues embedded deeply in our souls and deals with the source of our heartache, confusion, and questions.
As Christians, faced with the rough issues and questions of life, it should be our first thought to look into Scripture to discover who God is and what He has to say. As Christians, we allow the tough questions of life to engage with the revealed nature of who God is. As Christians, we trust Jesus' words, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7 NASB). As Christians, our go-to source of hope, comfort, and sustenance is Jesus Christ as revealed in God's Word, the Bible. Find Him there.