For it is by grace you have been saved...

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Value of The Word

The Associated Press recently carried a story about a synagogue in Miami which came up with a rather unique fund raiser. In exchange for a sizeable donation, they are allowing congregants to host Judaism's sacred text in their homes. They call it a Torah time-share.

The article says:

For a one-time gift of $1,800, members of Temple Israel can sponsor a section of the scroll. Each year, during the week before that section is read at Shabbat services, donors can keep the Torah in their home — an event that has prompted families to host scripture studies, parades and dinner parties.
I had two immediate reactions to that story which came to mind almost simultaneously. First was: how pagan to treat God’s Word as a fund raising tool. This particular Torah scroll was about 160 years old, so I can understand some of the value placed on it in that regard. Also, knowing Judaism’s focus on the scroll itself, which borders on idolatry, is a whole other issue. (The rabbi even suggested that the Torah’s presence in the home made that home a more holy place!) But the bottom line was that it was simply used as a fund-raising tool. I was offended.

But the second, again nearly simultaneous reaction was this: I wish our people valued God’s Word that much. Once more, I know there are differences between Jews and Christians in how we view these things. And I certainly don’t want to return to a Pagan/Catholic reverence of the Book as an object of divine worship itself. Yet, still, there is something to be said for valuing the Word of God so highly.

I wonder how many of our church folks would fork over any money at all to “host a copy” of God’s Word in their homes. While I certainly don’t want us to worship the item itself, I also know that most of us take the Divine Text so much for granted that while we may have several copies lying around, we read them rarely and obey them even less. Didn’t someone once say that familiarity breeds contempt? Have we maybe gotten to that point with regard to Scripture?

I think of those missionary stories where people are clamoring to obtain a copy of the Word. I think of the young Belarusian girl we hosted several years ago, and her giddiness when we sent home a Russian language Bible for each member of her family. Why don’t we have that kind of passion for God’s Word? Have we forgotten that these are not just idle words, but they are our very life? (Deut. 32:47)

In a sermon called The Unkept Vineyard Charles Spurgeon said:

“We often say that the Word of God is precious — that every page of it glows with a heavenly light. Do we study it? Friends, how much time do you spend upon it? I venture to say that the bulk of Christians spend more time in reading the newspaper than they do in reading the Word of God. . .

“The last new book, perhaps the last sentimental story, will win attentive reading, when the divine, mysterious, unutterable depths of heavenly knowledge are disregarded by us. Our Puritan forefathers were strong men, because they lived on the Scriptures. None stood against them in their day, for they fed on good meat,
whereas their degenerate children are far too fond of unwholesome food. . .

“Alas, my brethren, too many eat the unripe fruit of the vineyards of Satan, and the fruits of the Lord’s vines they utterly despise!”
Oh, that God’s people would return to a genuine passion for His Word; that we would truly see God’s promises as valuable as David does in Psalm 19:10 - “More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.”

Our Jewish friends may have missed the point in all this, but I find myself wishing we had their zeal for the Word in this regard.

1 comment:

Tim A Blankenship said...

Scott, The Word of God is precious. And I use that word in both senses the one of Samuel when we are told the "Word of God was precious in that day", and precious in the sense that it is life changing, soul changing, inspiring, sweet as honey in the mouth, fresh as a fresh flowing spring. \
It is great.