By Rick Marschall
Special to ASSIST News Service
The words of our Savior in red,” some Bibles say on their spines. But what about the words printed in black? I recently posted a picture on Facebook of a tattered Bible, opened to no place in particular, but the two pages looking like a Technicolor spectacular, with notes, revelations, and reminders in its margins. Bookmarks and Post-It notes splayed forth from many spots. Many people mark verses and passages that speak — or shout — to them in their Bibles.
Accompanying this picture I found was the quotation by Charles Spurgeon, “People whose Bibles are falling apart usually lead lives that aren’t.” It reminded me of the country song whose title warned listeners against “dust on the Bible.”
There are some devout people who think that any notes or marks we make in the Holy Bible is a form of desecration, but I am of the
school that thinks that scripture, the Holy Word, is also God’s User Manual for Life. I suspect it pleases Him when we are touched by a truth… want to revisit things easily… find ways we can organize the wisdom, commands, and promises… and know it all better.
In a way, margin-notes and color highlighters are not all that different from the old-fashioned versions of the Bible, those “Red Letter” editions. On the spines or title pages, sometimes, we read, “Jesus’ Words in Red.” Just so. Easy to find; quicker to, perhaps, memorize.
Certainly there is utility in highlighting Christ’s words. But even when a kid I used to wonder whether that would suggest to some people that the rest of the Bible was NOT the inspired Word of God, or not AS inspired. If God caused scripture to be written; if the Holy Spirit inspired every word, should not ALL the Bible be printed in red letters? “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the servant of God may be perfect, thoroughly provided for all good works” (II Timothy 3:16-17).
Again, just so. Jesus is Savior, but we must resist the temptation, when highlighting only His words, to think that the rest of the Bible might (as many in the world think) “merely” be the thoughts of good men, or well-meaning legends, or less than Holy.
I have been blessed enough to visit some of the world’s great cathedrals, and it was brought to my mind, despite the memorable majesty, that God does not dwell only in grand churches. In fact, we go to church to worship God, not really to meet Him. I have also been profoundly moved in some of the world’s humblest chapels; and, so, I am sure, you have been too. Plus, we are reminded that our very bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit.
Therefore, like Bibles we mark and underline, our worship-temples are not remote: they come with us, they are part of us. A fancy Bible can prompt reverence, just as a mighty cathedral can remind us of God’s grandeur. But if it stops there, we sadly are left with counterfeit experiences.
The Bible is, instead, a lamp unto our feet. And when we enter the Temple of Life, so to speak — not some New Age cliché, but in the reality of God’s habitation of every aspect of our lives — then we can experience many “red-letter days” God intends for us.
Rick Marschall is the author of 65 books and hundreds of magazine articles in many fields, from popular culture to history and criticism; country music, television history, biography and children’s books. He is a former political cartoonist, editor of Marvel Comics, and writer for Disney comics. For 10 years he has been active in the Christian field, writing devotionals; co-author of The Secret Revealed with Dr. Jim Garlow. Marschall is a former Director of Product Development for Youth Specialties. He is recipient of the 2008 “Christian Writer of the Year” award from the Greater Philadelphia Writer’s Conference, and produces a weekly e-mail devotional, “Monday Morning Music Ministry.” His e-mail address is: RickMarschall@gmail.com.