One of the most-frequently recommended practices of modern Christianity was virtually impossible until 500 years ago. Do you know what I’m talking about? The private reading of scripture. No doubt, for the entire history of Christianity, we have encouraged the public reading of scripture, but the average Christian had neither the education nor the means to afford his own Bible.
Even when Gutenberg introduced his revolutionary movable-type printing press that drove the cost of printing down, his Bible cost the equivalent of three year’s wages for an educated man. Did you know that only one of his Bibles was sold to an individual rather than a school, church, or organization?
I can’t prove these numbers, but I suspect that that less than 1% of Bible reading in the first 15 centuries of Christian history happened alone or in private. In contrast, I suspect that 95% or more of Bible reading in our century is done privately and individually.
It isn’t my goal to discourage you from reading scripture alone. Not at all! What a blessing we have in our access to the Word. Here’s my challenge for you: read like the early Christians did! Don’t only read alone. Read to someone. Read with someone. Be read to by someone.
Did you know scripture even commands this?
- Joshua 1:8 “This Book of Law shall not depart from your mouth…”
- 1 Timothy 4:13 “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.”
- Revelation 1:3 “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it…”
- Romans 10:17 “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”
By all means, keep reading your Bible alone, but let’s try doing what our brothers and sisters have done, and read the Bible with a friend. It might just change the world!