(Created before March 12, 2012)
When I was asked this question, it was a hard one for me to come up with an answer. This was partly due to the fact that I have an attitude like this towards the bible more than I should. In fact, I still don’t think that I’m the best one to respond to this question, but I’ll do my best, anyway.
How “boring” something appears to be is rather subjective. Not everyone will think going to the museum sounds fun, not everyone can be entertained by a sudoku puzzle, different things amuse different people. This being said, if you’re just reading the bible like it’s a history book or a logic puzzle then you’re reading it wrong.
This morning in church we sang at least a couple songs where a phrase was repeated over, and over, and over again. Not even a month ago I was joking with a coworker about about this very thing that happens in church services. Truthfully, this kind of repetitious singing isn’t my favourite form of worship. Yet, I was delighted to take part in it because by doing so I was fulfilling my heart’s desire to worship God. It may have been boring and redundant to an outsider to the faith, but to those blessed enough to be part of God’s family, it was a privilege.
I don’t know a single person who doesn’t - at least at some level - enjoy an occasional phone call from a family member or friend to catch up on life’s happenings. Even if all what is going on in life is “nothing much,” if the listener really cares about the speaker, if their relationship is deep, then even the mundane details can seem interesting.
Do you see where I’m going with this yet? The Bible isn’t just some ancient instruction manual, nor is it just a ledger of things that happened a long time ago, so don’t read it like it is! Read it like it’s not just God talking to us, but it’s God talking to you: personally, specifically.
I have a few suggestions for you to make the Bible seem less boring as you read it:
1. Realize that the Bible, The Holy Bible, is GOD’s word. GOD wrote The Bible! I know that many of you would disagree with me on this point, and I hope to expand on this at a later date, but it’s the truth. Pen touching paper may have been physically done by man, but the ideas and words that flowed from their minds onto the hard copies originated from and were inspired by God Himself. God; Creator of the universe; Manufacturer of the solar system; Inventor of light; Architect of Earth; the One who knew you and shaped you while you were yet in your mother’s womb; the all-seeing, all-knowing, all powerful, ever present King of kings. This impressive majestic being wrote the bible!
2. Try reading a more modern version of the bible. I don’t believe that any one translation of the bible has the truth of what the original manuscripts have to say 100% covered. But there are versions accurate enough to live by, so long you’re not taking things out of context. I would not suggest trying to read the KJV (King James Version). The “thees,” “thys,” and other old language in that translation can be incredibly hard to follow, as well as potentially being incredibly irritating and distracting. The NKJV (New King James Version) is an easier to read version of the same translation.
My personal favourite translation of the bible is the NIV (New Internation Version) - when I quote the bible on my website (www.biblegateway.com has multiple versions in multiple languages of the bible) it is most likely taken from this version. From what I can gather, the KJV translates the original manuscripts of the bible in a more word-for-word fashion than the NIV, the NIV trying to capture more of the meaning behind the words, with both translations having its advantages and disadvantages.
The NIV is easier to read than the KJV, but it’s not the easiest. People like reading “The Message” version of the bible. To me, this sacrifices some truth and accuracy in exchange for readability. The Message isn’t a translation of the bible as much as it’s a paraphrase. But I would also say that reading The Message is better than not reading the bible at all.
3. Start reading in the New Testament. Personally I would recommend starting with the book of John, although there is no right or wrong place to start, just so long as you’re reading the bible. I wouldn’t start with Numbers or Leviticus, as they are filled with an irritating amount of laws specifically for the Jews (many of these laws obsolete since Jesus rose again). I also wouldn’t start with Job, as more than half the book is filled with the erroneous opinions of Job’s peers (but the very last part of the book where God responds to Job is one of my favourite passages in scripture, and it’s also the place that mentions dinosaurs). It’s not a sin to skip the “boring” parts such as the genealogies (ie. He begot him, who begot him, who begot him, etc), just so long as you’re not skipping things because you don’t agree with it or the truth of the passage is hard to face.
4. This one is more for people like me: don’t ever assume that you know it all, or that there is nothing more that you can learn from the bible. I grew up at a Bible School where the main textbook was the Holy Bible. I took part in AWANAs (a kids club where we were encouraged to memorize verses), attended bible studies, and I go to church on a regular basis. I’d say that I have a fairly good understanding of the bible, and yet I’m still able to open my bible and discover and rediscover things about God and his creation, even from the more well-known passages of scripture.
5. Surround yourself with people who have a passion for God and His word. It’s good to be accountable to people when it comes to your walk with God, especially when it comes to your bible reading. If there’s a part of the bible that you are struggling with, talk about it with your Christian friends.
6. If you must, force yourself to read the Bible, if only out of a sense of duty. It’s not the best motive, but God can still speak to you.
7. Pray before starting to read God’s word that he will speak to you through what you will read. Pray during reading God’s word if you come across something you don’t understand. Pray after reading, thanking God for His Word. Bible reading and prayer go hand in hand, for it’s how you have a conversation with the creator.
I intimately know how few a few of these suggestions are easier said than done. I feel hypocritical and inadequate to even convey some of these things to you. However, throughout history God has used people to carry out his works despite their imperfections (look at the book of Jonah), and I hope and pray that the words I project on this website will be of aid or inspiration to you, the readers.