Never out of fashion

It was big doings in Winnipeg a few months ago when IKEA, that demigod of furniture stores (complete with its own restaurant), finally opened its doors. Oh, the anticipation; oh, the salivation over modular design and Swedish meatballs.

The Scandinavian supercentre took out a series of ads in the local media trumpeting the arrival of its 12th Canadian store. One in particular caught my eye.

"Seven days till store opening," it declared. "Did you know: The IKEA catalogue is more popular than the Bible. Every year, there are almost three times more copies of the catalogue printed than the Bible."

The headline over a photo of a catalogue cover declares, "Bring new life to your home!"

According to a Wall Street Journal article, about 208 million copies of the IKEA catalogue were printed in fiscal year 2013, "more than double the number of Bibles expected to be printed in the same period." (But it sounds like more if you say "almost three times," right?) For the 2013 edition, 62 different versions of the catalogue were created for 43 countries.

An estimated 20,000 visitors were expected on opening day in Winnipeg, with people lining up the night before in frigid temperatures. The big day featured entertainment and speeches from dignitaries including the premier and the mayor.

Yes, it was a big deal. One woman gushed to the CBC, "We've arrived. We've got something great that the rest of Canada has and we wanted it too, we always wanted it. Now we have it so it's exciting."

Wouldn't it be grand if we were that motivated about the Bible? If we were as excited to open the pages of God's Word as we are to get the newest flyer advertising kitchen kitsch and bedroom baubles? If we made it our goal to inspire others to buy it, read it, design their lives around what it says?

Our friends at the Canadian Bible Society tell me the United Bible Societies, of which it is a member, distributed around 29 million Bibles in 2011, with 142 Bible Societies serving more than 200 countries worldwide.

There are many other Bible agencies and publishers worldwide printing and distributing Bibles as well…The Gideons, the Bible League, World Serve, the International Bible Society to name a few. And then there are retail publishers such as Zondervan, Tyndale and B&H Publishing Group.

Let's not forget China. As reported in a Christian Post article last November, Amity Printing Co. Ltd., printed its 100 millionth copy of the Bible. Since its launch in 1988, Amity has printed 60 million Bibles (including nine separate ethnic minority language editions) and provided 40 million copies in more than 90 languages to about 70 different countries and regions around the world.

Now add to the printing and distribution some wonderfully innovative people and organizations (like those highlighted in this month's Bible Today feature) who are doing their utmost to see that everyone has access to, and understands, the one Book that really can change be life-changing. It's pretty impressive.

There may be a lot of copies of the IKEA catalogue floating around, but those offerings will only last for so long before they go out of fashion and we're on to the next greatest thing. The newest flyers quickly become next month's compost.

God's Word? That's a different matter entirely. The Psalm-writer sums it up well.

"What you say goes, GOD, and stays, as permanent as the heavens. Your truth never goes out of fashion; it's as up-to-date as the earth when the sun comes up," (Psalm 119:89-90, The Message).

Bring new life to your home indeed.

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About the author

Kelly Rempel is the Senior Editor for ChristianWeek.