What are people around the world looking for?

The news is not all bad. Yes, we keep hearing that the percentage of people in the United States who believe in God is shrinking. And, according to census data, the number of people who self-describe as having “no religion” continues to grow. But while those figures are important, they do not tell the whole

Around the globe, Christianity is growing. There are over 2 billion Christians on earth, representing the world’s largest religious group, by far. Even in the U.S. there were 14 million more self-proclaimed adult Christians in the last census than in the previous

Recently the popular Bible search site BibleGateway.com released the results of a study they conducted in conjunction with GMI (Global Mapping International) regarding online Bible searches by country. The study found that people from 242 of the world’s 263 countries spent 76 million hours in 2013 “searching, reading, studying, comparing, and sharing the Bible in their own

This interest in the Bible may continue for a long time. According to BibleGateway the average Bible searcher around the world is between age 13 and age 34. Their pursuit of Bible knowledge is just getting

It is fascinating to see what people searched for in different countries around the world. For example, in China the two most common searches were for Matthew 1 and John 1, which suggests that Chinese searchers want to learn about Jesus, and intend to start at the beginning (chapter 1) so they don’t miss

Among the countries with the largest populations, only the United States, Russia and Brazil (all historically Christian countries) performed more searches in the New Testament than in the Old. In two of the world’s ten largest countries, not a single New Testament text figured into the top five most popular

Another intriguing fact about these searches: in countries where religious persecution is common (for example, Pakistan, Nigeria and Bangladesh), the most common biblical search is in the Book of Psalms, which suggests people are looking for comfort and strength in times of trouble. The top searches in Pakistan (ranked eighth in the world for persecution against Christians) were in the Psalms. They include Psalm 91, where Pakistanis read, “I will say of the LORD, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’”

Contrast that to one of the top searches in the U.S. – Jeremiah 29:11: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Pakistani believers are looking for security in the present. American believers are looking for assurance about the

When it comes to searches for specific words, the most common was for “guidance.” That was followed by “God,” “comfort,” “the word,” “hope,” “strength,” “identity,” “the beginning,” “refuge,” “mercy” and “love.” It’s clear that some people are just beginning an investigation into Christianity. They are looking Bible basics about God and about creation. Others are digging in to find the help they need in their specific circumstances.

As interesting as it is to discover what people search the Bible for when it comes to God, it is probably even more helpful to know what God searches the earth for when it comes to people. According to the Bible, “…the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” God is looking for people who: seek him and trust him; whose worship is real and not simply ritual; who cooperate with him in his work of salvation and justice.

And guess what? He doesn’t need a search engine to find them.

First published in The Coldwater Daily Reporter, 3/8/14

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