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Editor’s note: When one of our staff spent time playing video games with his grandson, he gleaned an insight into the challenges that face us when we try to explain the gospel message to someone who is biblically illiterate.
My wife and I were visiting our grandchildren for the first time since they acquired a state-of-the-art video game console—a gift from a generous neighbour. The youngest, 7-year old Thomas*, was beside himself with excitement. He could hardly wait to show me his prowess.
I was no sooner in the house when Thomas plopped a strange-looking object into my hand. The clear plastic, kidney-shaped device immediately reminded me of the cockpit of a commercial jetliner. Buttons, toggles, switches, levers, dials and diodes of every size and colour poked out at odd angles and from all sides. I asked Thomas, “What is it?”
The look on his face betrayed utter surprise that someone as old and wise as Grandpa could be so uneducated. “It’s an Xbox 360 controller, Grandpa!”
Well of course! I guess I should have known that. But the truth was, I didn’t know. “You’ll have to show me, Thomas,” I ventured, for I knew full well this was the response he was hoping for.
Thomas led the way downstairs where he plugged the controller into another mysterious piece of equipment, turned on the TV and began pressing and poking buttons with the dexterity of my great aunt’s knitting needles.
A snazzy red race car appeared on the monitor, sound effects and all. In response to Thomas’s nimble fingers, the powerful car navigated the speedway with amazing precision and realism. Thomas’s body twisted and jerked in concert with each bend and turn of the racetrack. It was obvious my grandson was on familiar ground, in his element; I was definitely out of mine.
Later, when it was my turn to operate the controller, disbelief and frustration were evident in my grandson’s face as he watched me struggle to extract my race car from high in the grandstand.
Reflecting on the experience later, it occurred to me there are multitudes of people who are as unfamiliar with the Bible as I was with my grandson’s video game. The pages and events of Scripture are a complete mystery to them. It may seem incredulous to us that a person could be totally ignorant of the Bible but, in reality, more and more people in our society are biblically illiterate. Put a Bible in their hands, and they will feel much like I did trying to operate my grandson’s Xbox 360 controller.
The Scriptures record how a Middle-Eastern man—a very intelligent Ethiopian official—struggled to make sense of the Bible. When he was asked if he understood what he was reading, he replied, “How can I, unless someone explains it to me?” (Acts 8:31 NIV)
In our eagerness to share the good news of God’s Word, are we doing enough to help our friends and loved ones understand the gospel message? If we hand them any Christian book, or a tract with only brief explanations, wouldn’t it be akin to handing them an XBox 360 controller for the first time without any explanation?
Instead, what if we handed our friend a tool specifically designed for people with no knowledge of the Bible, a tool that will gently, respectfully and objectively explain the Bible’s core message. Wouldn’t that be a better help?
To understand how we’ve carefully written our tools in order to simply and clearly explain the Bible’s message, please visit our Tools Architecture Page.
(*Name changed as per GoodSeed policy.)
Photo credit: “Xbox 360 Controller” by Scott Ackerman is licensed under CC BY 2.0