As I sit here at my computer, on the shelf next to my monitor, is a collection of Bibles; there is the Good News Bible I had as a child, the NIV Bible I got as a, there is a New Century version Youth Bible the pastor and his wife gave me for my 21st birthday and there is also the Handbook to the Bible which I received for having perfect attendance at Sunday School one year. Considering I spent over 20 years not going to church it amazes me that I still have these Bibles, and they are not the only ones as there are others scattered around in cupboards and on book shelves. But the Bible I use most often is a small NLT version which I bought more than a decade ago when I briefly returned to church. It is now looking a bit battered with the faux leather covering worn away in places but it is the one which has all my highlighted scriptures and notes in and it fits perfectly in my jacket pocket when I walk to church.
I must admit that when I returned to church I was surprised at how many people were there without a Bible. Instead when the sermon started they would rely on the big screens on either side of the stage where the scripture hopefully appeared or they would pull out their phone and use a Bible app to read the verses. And to be honest I can fully understand the convenience of doing that and maybe if I hadn’t got this Bible which fits neatly in my pocket I would do the same. But it did get me thinking about the app verses physical book debate when it comes to the Bible especially when with the attention grabbing nature of smart phones it can be hard not to check your twitter feed or email rather than studying the word or listening to the sermon.
Now on one hand I can appreciate the convenience of a Bible app, in truth when ever I am searching for verses on a particular subject I tend to use a variety of websites. And for those following an online Bible study, such as one of those year in the Bible courses, the convenience of clicking on a link and being presented with the verses is undoubtedly easier. And I suppose if you are waiting somewhere and fancy reading some scripture you are less likely to get looks of condemnation than if you were to sit there with a Bible in your hand.
But on the other hand there are many times I have picked up my Bible to read a chapter or a scripture mentioned by someone and on the adjacent page I have found something which at that moment related to me so much more. It is some thing you just don’t get when reading scripture using an app because you get what reference you type in and nothing more. Not only that having the physical Bibles on my shelf next to where I spend the majority of my day is a constant reminder to spend time in the word, something I didn’t do enough of when I was younger and one of the reasons why I feel that I strayed from the church. And to be honest, when ever I do use my phone for reading the Bible I find myself becoming distracted where with the physical Bible in my hand I can find myself immersed in it, reading much more than I would on a phone.
Now in truth this blog post was a little bit of a nothing-ness because using a Bible app or reading from a physical Bible is a good thing and each have their clear benefits. But what I will say is for anyone who only ever reads their Bible using an app to go and get their hands on a hard copy because not only is having it near you a good reminder to spend time in the scripture but sometimes the gift is not in the scripture you thought you were going to read but something else on the page next to it.