Many years ago, I was talking with a young woman, and I asked her what she thought of Jesus. Her reply was a good answer but qualified with this phrase, “but I don’t think he was very polite.”

The more I read the Gospels, the more I am convinced that her qualification is a true one. The problem was that, to her, politeness was a high virtue, and since Jesus was not polite, He was not perfect.

Many of us, like this young woman, interpret Scripture in the light of our cultural mores. We do this because obedience to the text as it is might mean crossing or offending our Christian and secular friends.

The issue is clear in a place like India or Japan where the religious culture is so opposite to the claims of Christ. If a person does not follow Christ there, he knows he does not, and he knows why. In our society, we have compromised for so long that we think we are following Christ when in reality we are only following the evangelical American culture.

One good way to be sure you are following Christ and not the culture is to be in the Word daily. Read the Word. Read allof the Word. With that in mind, I would like to invite you to join the To the Word Bible reading challenge. You will read through the entire Bible through the school year, along with thousands of other Christians in this country and around the world. You can find the details at The plan has already started: do not try to catch up – just start with today’s reading. You can catch what you missed when the plan restarts next year.