I bought a new Bible today. It’s pretty.
It’s an English Standard Version, to which my church recently switched from New International. My instinct was of course to go for the cheapest Bible there, a ten-dollar bare-bones imitation leather copy. But then I saw this:
It was a little more expensive, but the kid behind the desk let me tear it open and explore and, with all the extra notes, charts, tables, maps, prefaces and theological statements included, I thought it was worth it. Still, I couldn’t help but frown at myself as I handed over fifteen extra dollars – I could have gotten all that information online for free, though maybe in different formats, and quite frankly, I have enough Bibles.
And that got me thinking – ’cause, you know, I do that. When I got home, I inventoried my Bibles, just to see.
I have ESV on my Kindle.
I also have the ESV, King James, American Standard, and a “literal” translation (I don’t know anything about that one – to be honest I don’t really read it) on e-sword. (For real, get e-sword. It’s the coolest Bible study tool I have.)
I have a very nice NIV, hardback with all the notes and charts and tables (different ones from my new Bible, really!).
I have a cute little King James.
I have a cute little New King James, which was a gift. (And actually kind of funny – it’s personalized with a name that I’m pretty sure was a misspelling of “Meghan,” that is, “Meeghan.” It was used, of course, but in great shape. As if had been sold as soon as it was bought in the first place! Hmm.)
I have a flimsy little paperback NIV on my desk, in which I take notes.
And now I have a MacArthur ESV with notes.
So all in all, I have ten Bibles in various translations available to me, five of which are actual copies that I can hold in my hand. How many do you have?
Now there are far worse things than Bibles to have too many of, but even so …
At a Voice of the Martyrs Conference in Beaverton, Oregon, last October, I saw a video clip. I couldn’t find it online (let me know in comments if you can – that would be awesome!) but I can recap. It was a video of believers in an Asian country where Bibles are difficult to get a hold of. A suitcase full of Bibles was smuggled in so that they could have their own copies, and when it was opened, every single person in the room just literally pounced on it. There were probably twenty people crowded around this suitcase, weeping and smiling and kissing their brand-new Bibles.
Most believers there are desperate for the word, but can’t get a copy. There’s nowhere to buy it, for any price, and to be caught with one often means imprisonment or death. These believers would pay far, far more than what I’ve paid to have their very own copy of the Word. It’s not uncommon in underground churches to have believers copy an entire Bible by hand.
I’m not saying we should mail all of our Bibles to China. It’s a great thing that we have the Word so readily available to us. But it does bother me that I’ve spent so much energy – and money – amassing my own personal menagerie, and I haven’t bothered to get any Bibles to persecuted believers who need it far worse than I do.
So I’m making a commitment: I’m going to spend as much money smuggling Bibles into the underground church as I’ve spent on my own personal Bible collection. (I also inventoried the prices of my various Bibles, but I don’t want to share the number – Mt 6:3.)
Will you do this with me??
It was pretty darn easy to inventory my Bible collection; I just tried to remember what I’d spent on each one, rounding up a little if I wasn’t sure. My number isn’t exact, but that’s okay.
I hope other believers will join me.
I’m going to donate to Bibles Unbound, a branch of Voice of the Martyrs. Click on the picture below to go to their site. Do you know any other organizations? Mention them in comments, so other challenge-accepters can check them out.
Also remember there’s no rush to donate the whole sum right away. Take your time and pay it as you can.
Feel free to leave a comment letting me know that you’ve accepted the challenge!