Bill at the Bible Study By Dave Engel

Bill walks up to the door and presses the doorbell. The doorbell says, “Ding dong,” and ushers in our hostess. Oh Karen, her little Bible Study. The diligently prepared desserts and Columbian coffees. Oh how she loves to play grown-up and entertain a host of… ding dong, time to fetch the door! So in comes Bill to be greeted by a group of grasping hands, all teeth and gums with welcomes to share. Bill’s eyes slide down to the super-fashionable, ultra-religious, “Jesus” bracelets that loudly ask a question meant to probe one’s heart. And yet this marketable statement of faith somehow doesn’t probe Bill, he’s just left wondering if the abstract couldn’t do the same.

So after the pastries and chocolates and coffees and introductions comes the Bible. Oh yes, the Bible. It doesn’t speak very loud but it has so much to say. But since everyone is so busy unzipping their ultra-fashionable, super-religious Bible covers they don’t even notice that poor Bill doesn’t have a Bible. That is, until he says something. Now what a pickle Karen is in, all that planning for nothing. But she spies hope! A guest Bible just for this occasion, when a heathen or gentile or Jehovah’s Witness or whoever comes over unequipped. How thoughtful she is. Well as soon as Bill gets his Bible and opens it up, the Bible starts saying all sorts of stuff. On page 221 it says, “I took my concubine, cut her up into pieces and sent one to…” Flip a few more pages and more of the same. Page 283: “The Lord will repay him for the blood he shed…May the guilt of their blood rest upon the head…” Page 580 is all in a fever with, “Instead of a fragrance there will be a stench, instead of a sash, a rope…”

So Bill shuts his Bible and decides to listen to Karen instead. He thought that’d prove less confusing but it just made the problem worse. “How many of you have Jesus?” she questioned. Bill didn’t even own a Bible or bracelet, how could he be expected to have a Jesus as well? So he went out on a limb when it was his turn to answer, “Well I’ve got this Bible now, I’m looking to upgrade to a Jesus in a few years.” To Bill it seemed well stated enough but our hostess doesn’t seem to like the answer. Fortunately her bracelet reminds her of her duty to lead the heathens to Christ, so she went on. “I mean Bill, do you have a relationship with Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior?” Thinking back to religious ed. classes he remembered that the Bible was a book of answers to life’s problem. Unfortunately all he could recount of Jesus was stories about healing and feeding and forgiving and loving people, nothing about these high stress, do or die, question and answer sessions. ‘Maybe I should invite Him over for cards?’ Bill thinks. The Bible didn’t say anything about Jesus playing cards either, so Bill just says “No” and leaves it at that. Ignoring the pleading of the Bible in front of her, Karen asks, “Well do you want to receive his free gift?” So Bill figures the gift must be a bracelet or Bible cover since all the others have them and quickly accepts. Who wants to be a loner right? Then all of a sudden between green booklets, diagrams and prayers, Bill is a Christian. It all happened so fast. Never much a man for religion but always one for safety he figures the fire insurance can’t hurt. Besides even if they are wrong, he only has spent his life living a little bit better. “But more importantly,” the group points out, “what if they are right?”

“Karen always was such a good Christian,” the rest of the group thinks. Helping people like this poor gentile Bill. “She even went on a mission trip to the Bahamas last year,” they whisper and then back to sipping mochachino chai lattes.

So then the still confused but ever mindful Bill, not wanting to miss out on the free gift part, asks when he gets the Bible zipper case or bracelet. Uh oh, Karen does not like to be mocked. This time she ignores her Bible and bracelet and shows Bill the door. Standing outside in the cold Bill still wonders if maybe the free gifts were part of a raffle, or maybe he had to subscribe first. The group just plays dumb and admires the hand-crafted trim during this whole thing. They tried right?

The Bibles that are still open talk as loud as they can but are promptly being ignored. One says, “I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and daughters, and they will eat one another’s flesh during the stress of the siege imposed upon them by the enemies that seek their lives.” Another comments, “‘There is no peace,’ says my God, ‘for the wicked.’ ” And finally a third cries, “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.” But upon seeing that no one’s listening, and everyone’s just drinking his or her coffee, he shuts up too.