My relocation to the Atlanta area to work at American Vision has yielded many new things in my life. My family has a new house and a new neighborhood, our car has a new license plate, my children have new friends, and I have a new TiVo. Having a TiVo hooked up to your TV is a whole new approach to television. You can record shows (or an entire season of shows) for later viewing with a single button push, fast forward through commercials or pause live TV. And it recently occurred to me that our TiVo is like the Bible…it’s useless, unless you use it.

We have had the TiVo in our house for about three weeks now, and it wasn’t until last night that we realized what we had been missing. We had only been using the TiVo like a VCR, recording programs for later viewing. And if this was the TiVo’s only function it would still be worth it to me not to have to mess around with videotapes and labels and rewinding and fast-forwarding. But last night my wife and I did something phenomenal…we paused the TV show we were watching when we went to get our late-night snacks. Instead of waiting for the commercials, like we previously had, we made the technology work for us. We actually had the ability to do this for weeks, but it went unnoticed because we were too tied to our old routine.  The TiVo sat underutilized on a shelf, just like millions of Bibles sit untouched on bookshelves across America.

The Bible is still the best-selling book in the world…nothing else even comes close. An estimated 6 billion copies of various translations have been sold worldwide. The number two all-time bestseller, Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung, has sold a paltry 900 million.[1] Most American homes claim at least two or three copies of the Bible,[2] yet most Americans are stunningly ignorant of what the Bible actually says. Only half of Americans can name one of the four Gospels, only 37% can name all four. Only 42% can name Jesus as the speaker of the Sermon on the Mount, and 75% believe the Bible teaches that God helps those who help themselves.[3] Such a proliferation of God’s Word and yet such an incredible ignorance of what it contains can only mean one thing…nobody bothers reading the best-selling book of all-time. While Americans have a “form of godliness,” they are, for the most part, “denying the power thereof” (2 Tim. 3:5).

Just as I had the power of the TiVo sitting unused in my living room, most Americans keep the power of God’s Word contained safely on their bookshelf. It makes an attractive addition to every American home, but it was never intended to be a decoration. Ignorance of His Word does not relieve us of the responsibility it carries. God expects those with access to His Word to read and understand it (Deut. 29:29) and teach and proclaim it to others (Matt. 28:19–20; Heb. 5:12–14). Just like my TiVo, as well as everything else, the Bible has a designed purpose. We can use it as a living room decoration only to our own detriment as a society. Use your TiVo for its purpose tonight and pause your TV shows. Then you’ll have time to get your Bible down off the shelf and begin to search for the “God helps those who help themselves”[4] passage and the names of the four Gospels…


[4] Benjamin Franklin as “Poor Richard” wrote in 1736, that “God helps those that help themselves.”