Internationally acclaimed novelist Thomas Mann wrote a whole series of books on Joseph, the person who is the focus of Genesis 37 through 50. So we know that Mann had more than a superficial acquaintance with the Bible.

Yet his biographer records that on Christmas in 1940, Mann read aloud from the Bible for the “general amusement” of his family. At one point he said, “This book is a harmless diversion, exactly what I need.”

We may wonder why the family was amused and what Mann meant by calling God’s holy Word “a harmless diversion.” While the Bible does contain humor, its message speaks about matters that are deeply serious and of eternal importance.

Because it is the Word of God and therefore the Word of Truth, the Bible is to be read with reverence. Its timeless teachings should elicit a response of gratitude and obedience, but certainly not amusement.

How do you and I read Scripture? As a harmless diversion, like a piece of pulp fiction? Or do we read it as a priceless source of light and hope that daily demands our concentrated, prayerful attention?

The Bible’s truth is exactly what we need.