YouVersion is a Bible app for tablets and phones. It has the Bible in hundreds of languages and it is very popular around the world. Among its many functions, it allows users to highlight, bookmark and share verses. Because the app works with an Internet connection, the makers of YouVersion can see which verses people are highlighting, bookmarking and sharing. Also, they can tell which country the activity is coming from. This allows them to track which verses get the most attention in which countries.
YouVersion has revealed that in 2016 the same verse got the most attention in 88 different countries. It would be fun to see what verses my readers would guess. Without a doubt, John 3:16 would get lots of votes. In reality, the verse that got the most highlights, likes and shares in 88 different countries in 2016 was this one:
“And the Lord will be king over all the earth. On that day there will be one Lord—his name alone will be worshiped.” (Zechariah 14:9 NLT)
Perhaps you are now surprised.
It turns out that what Bible verses people like varies a lot from place to place. That’s because different verses in the Bible speak to different issues and which issues are most important to people depends on their culture, beliefs and circumstances. I can’t assume that someone from another culture and place will find my favorite parts of the Bible most relevant. That’s probably why God had the Bible written over many centuries, in many places, in many different circumstances, and in different cultures. I wouldn’t want someone from another culture to limit me to their favorite food, let alone their favorite Bible verse.
We are involved in the translation of the whole Bible so that Zechariah 14:9 and other verses that you or I would never pick can be someone’s favorite. With the whole Bible, everyone can find the verses that brings them the most hope, encouragement, joy and faith; the ones without which they would never find their way into God’s kingdom.
I’ve printed this out to use for our “missionary moment” at church. How exciting to think of God “planning ahead” for each of us in our various worldviews, to be able to appreciate His attributes and be drawn to Him. I’ve been interested in how an honour/shame cultures relates to God so differently than a guilt/justice culture, and so forth. (and how hard it is for us to understand a different worldview than our own!)
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Thanks. That makes it worthwhile to write it.