by: FCC Staff
To make an apt answer is a joy to a man,
and a word in season, how good it is!
In 2017 the most searched for bible verse was Joshua 1:9, (“do not be afraid; do not be discouraged”) In 2018 it was Isaiah 41:10 (“do not fear, for I am with you”) In 2019 the most popular verse was Philippians 4:6 (Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.) Other popular verses in 2019 were Matthew 6:33 (seek first the kingdom of God) and 2 Timothy 1:7 ( God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control)
But in a snapshot of searches from May and June of this year show the search results began to change. Yes, there was an uptick for searches for the term “blessing” in July after Elevation worship dropped their track called “The Blessing.” But overall searches at biblegateway.com this year have followed trends in these themes: The end times, equality, race, love and hate, standing up for others, justice and oppression, leaders, and unity.
It is heartening to see that people are turning to scripture for answers in these times of trial. However, we also see in a report from the American Bible Society the “number of American adults considered “Scripture engaged” based on how frequently they read the Bible and its impact on their relationships and choices dropped from 28% to 23% (a loss of 13 million people) between January and June 2020 during the virus outbreak.” The loss was most pronounced among women, who assumedly had less time to engage scripture, juggling the challenges faced by the pandemic and quarantine.
Yet the study also shows 68% of American adults (about 172 million people) are ‘Bible curious,’ meaning they want to learn more about Scripture. More Americans were exploring the Bible for the first time in June 2020 compared to January 2020. We can see that in the results of searches for the end of the world, and other seemingly “current” events.
Where have the searches for bravery and hope and trusting in God, so popular in years past, gone to?
Our friends and neighbors may be curious on what the bible has to say on topics of the day, or if our current situation does in fact meet the biblical requirements for the return of our King. We must be ready to provide that “apt answer” that our proverb speaks of today. As they search for answers, to validate their anxieties about how fraught with dangers and chaos our world has become, we can be there to assure them with the very words of Jesus when he spoke of such things.
In John chapter 16 He told the disciples of great trials and dark times that were coming as his ministry was coming to its foreseen conclusion. Jesus had chosen the cross, to lay his life down in service to all. The forces of darkness and the agents of the Enemy were coming for him, and by extension his disciples would face trials and persecution. Jesus told them of this, and at the end of the chapter he tells them this simple truth, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (v33)
Yes, the bible has a LOT to say about the challenges our society and the world are currently facing. And if the statistics of this year’s searches and who is doing the searching is any indication, many of our friends and neighbors are seeking what the bible has to say in these areas.
In years past, it seemed like Christians were searching for peace, confidence and security in Christ. We who know Christ have our peace in him. Today let’s share with the world this peace, and like the first followers of Christ, be reassured when our Master tells us, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
This is the hope of the gospel that our neighbors, our family, friends, this nation and the world need to hear. There is no better word in times of trial than that of the victory of Christ over the powers of sin, death and hell. Let’s joyfully be the ones who can deliver this apt answer, in this season of doubt and trouble we all find ourselves in.
Prayer for Today
Father, thank you for the gift of your word in scripture. Your truth is of so much comfort and joy to me as I navigate this life. Jesus, as those around me search for meaning to the chaos that is surrounding us, let me speak of your peace, your love, your victory. Send your Holy Spirit to root me in you Lord, that I may have the joy of speaking your Good News to a world that so desperately needs to hear it. Amen.