In June of 1940, Hitler’s armies were poised to destroy the cornered British army stranded on the beaches of Dunkirk. As the British people anxiously awaited word of their countrymen’s fate, a three-word message was transmitted from the besieged army: “But if not…”
The British public recognized the familiar words from the King James Version of the Bible…the words of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego when King Nebuchadnezzar threatened to cast them into the fiery furnace: “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us,” they said, “but if not…we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou has set up” (Daniel 3)
This do-or-die message galvanized the British people. In what came to be called “the miracle of Dunkirk,” thousands crossed the English channel in every imaginable kind of boat and rescued their army.
Fast forward to January of 2001. A newly-elected American president delivered his inaugural address. Dick Meyer of CBS news confessed: “There were a few phrases in the speech I just didn’t get. One was, ‘When we see that wounded traveler on the road to Jericho, we will not pass to the other side.’ ” The newsman ended by saying, “I hope there’s not a quiz.”
Now here was a reasonably well-educated man, but the president’s reference to the parable of the Good Samaritan was a foreign language to him. If the people of Great Britain had been that unfamiliar with famous Bible references, the bones of their soldiers would lie scattered on the beaches.
Polls in recent years suggest that only a small percentage of Americans can name the 10 commandments. Only 42 percent can tell you who preached the Sermon on the Mount. Junior high and senior high kids who have not regularly attended a Christian School or Sunday School, and have not regularly attended church throughout their youth, do not recognize references to David and Goliath, Daniel in the lion’s den, or the parable of the Prodigal Son. Some cannot even tell you that Easter is when Jesus rose from the dead! Seriously! Computer-literate kids, who can find anything with Google, cannot find the life of Abraham or Moses on the pages of the Bible. When it comes to this Book that their less-educated grandparents could cite from memory, they are utterly illiterate – and therefore also utterly defenseless against false teachings and godless ideas with which their peers and the mass media have brainwashed them. The least familiar voice in their lives is the voice of Him who loves them most. Are we OK with this?!
Our gracious God has given us His Word…Bibles to read, worship services to attend, Christian schools & Sunday Schools for our children, Bible classes for all. Here He opens wide to us His very heart in His Son, Jesus, who lived and died and rose to redeem us. Let no voice be more familiar to us than His! Let no voice be more welcome in our lives and sweeter to our ears!