As part of my preparation for Easter, I set myself the goal of reading through as much of the Bible as I could over the 40 days of Lent, from Genesis to Revelation. Reading the Bible in this compressed, fairly intense way was quite a meaty task! But, in his perfect way, God revealed new things to me. There were two that particularly stood out.
Just a few verses into Genesis, I read about the world being in darkness, and God saying ‘Let there be light’. It struck me that God’s Word was always, right from the start, meant to bring light into dark places. And that got me thinking about how we need to let its light penetrate the dark places inside us, and then become carriers of this light into the darkness in our world.
This darkness is manifested in many different ways. There are people living in the deep shadows of addiction, abuse, war, violence, discrimination and loneliness. We need to not just bring God’s Word to them, but be God’s Word, brightly shining his love into those situations. In my own village community here in the UK, for instance, there are elderly people who live alone and feel very isolated, and my wife and I have been praying about how we can love and care for them as God’s ‘light carriers’.
And then there are people living ordinary lives but who have never heard the Word of God – another type of darkness. And that brings me to the second thing that really leapt out for me as I read through the Bible.
In Philippians 2:10-11 it says that ‘every knee will bow’ and ‘every tongue’ confess at Jesus’ name. And again, in Revelation 7, we read how ‘every nation, tribe, people and language’ will be worshipping the Lamb. This reminded me very powerfully that God’s salvation really is for every person on this beautifully diverse planet of ours. That is a wonderful thing! And it resonates with our vision at United Bible Societies: ‘the Bible for everyone.’
But these verses challenged me, too, because I know there are so many people out there who haven’t had the chance to really, truly encounter God’s Word. It may be because they can’t read, or because they live in a very poor community where Bibles just aren’t available in any form. It could be because they live in a culture which denigrates the Bible’s message, or where it’s dangerous to read it. Or it could be because the Bible simply isn’t available in a language they can understand.
So my journey this Easter has re-energised me in my work as the head of an organisation that is committed to making the Bible available to everyone – through translating the Bible, distributing it in various formats, and helping people to encounter it in a way that speaks into their lives. Because I passionately believe what Jesus says in John 10:10: “I have come in order that you might have life – life in all its fullness.”