We all know what a crime is, murder, theft, jaywalking, and so on. Some places even have different standards for crime. In Singapore it’s a crime to chew gum. In Venice it’s a crime to feed the birds and carries a $700 penalty (why do they hate birds so much?!) In France, it’s a crime to name a pig Napoleon. Also, in some parts of France it’s also a crime to die without first pre-buying a burial plot. That last one confuses me a little bit, because if you die and they find out that you broke the law by not first pre-purchasing a burial plot, how are they going to prosecute you? Different countries may have different standards for crime, but I think there’s at least one thing that every people of every nation should consider a crime: making the Bible sound boring.
The Bible is not a boring book.
Let me just start by getting that out of the way. There’s a story of a lady who killed a guy by driving a tent peg through his head, a story of a talking donkey, and a story of a prophet who called a bear to attack a bunch of kids when they essentially called him “baldy.” And that’s just a few stories from just a few of the many books in the Bible.
I know what you’re thinking, “But sometimes the Bible sounds so boring!” I won’t argue that that’s true, however just because we’ve all heard the Bible portrayed in a boring way doesn’t make it a boring book. It’s like someone doing a really bad job at cooking bacon. Bacon is amazing and can’t be held responsible for people who don’t know how to cook it.
As a kid I remember thinking that there must only be like ten stories in the Bible because those were the ones I heard every week on a rotating basis in Sunday School (you know the ones; Adam and Eve, Noah’s Ark, Samson, David and Goliath, Daniel and the Lion’s Den, the Nativity, The Prodigal Son, The Good Samaritan, The Crucifixion, and The Resurrection). I could never figure out why the Bible was such a massive book if it had so little in it. Though I had very faithful and sweet Sunday School teachers, excitement wasn’t really their thing. After hearing for the 137th time about the five smooth stones that David picked to fight Goliath I couldn’t help but eagerly look forward to the story being done so I could get some graham crackers and a dixie cup of apple juice. (By the way, they always left out the part when David chopped off Goliath’s head which I’m sure would have held my attention had they left it in).
Why is the Bible often portrayed in a boring way?
I believe part of it is that we’re afraid to honestly say what’s in there. We don’t like that Noah got drunk, that Elijah got depressed, that David slept around. I once heard someone say that the biblical characters didn’t sin. I’m not sure what Bible she was reading because they all did…except Jesus of course. We too often remove the humanity from these very human characters. I don’t believe we should tear down all our heroes, but I think it’s healthy to see that they were people just like us. The fact that God was able to do some amazing things through them despite their fallen nature is what makes them heroic.
I believe we also get too caught up on the intellectual study of the Bible. We’ll spend a great deal of time talking about the original Greek words, the historical context of the time, and the culture that the books of the Bible were written in. Let me clearly state that all of these things are very important. Let me also state that I’m a pastor, and I got my degree in Bible and Theology. I love studying Scripture, but too often what’s presented is aiming at the head and not the heart. Jesus spent very little time on direct teaching and far more often used stories to illustrate His point. Jesus knew that a good story is powerful, and the Bible is full of good stories.
I should also point out that the Bible does in fact have boring parts. I mean, there’s an entire book called “Numbers” which I don’t know of anyone who’s chomping at the bit to do a verse-by-verse sermon series on. All of the Bible is inspired by God and all of it is useful, but even useful things can be boring. The directions to Ikea furniture are useful (kind of) but not a thrilling page-turner.
I absolutely love history. I watch the History Channel, I read historical books, I love studying history. Most of those who know me assume that history was probably my favorite subject in school, but it wasn’t. History was always taught in a way that was boring. It was always the same few events, taught the exact same way, and just like when I was in Sunday School as a kid, I couldn’t wait for the lesson to end. That’s a shame because history is full of fascinating stories. History may not be your thing, but the Bible should be. I truly believe that far more of the Bible is exciting than boring and when it is portrayed in a boring way, it is a crime. Maybe not one punishable by any court, but a crime none-the-less. If we take something that is so inspiring, exciting, and fascinating and diminish it to such a degree that it becomes boring, we have done a great disservice.
I’m not saying that we need to MAKE the Bible sound more exciting or interesting than it is, I’m saying that the Bible IS more exciting and interesting than we make it. The Bible is full of real people who lived real lives and it contains some of the greatest stories ever told. The Bible is not boring, and it’s a crime to make it sound like it is.
I’m a husband to my wife and dad to my kids. I’m also a pastor. As a grown-up church kid, one of my favorite things to do is take the truth of God’s Word and present it from a different angle and fresh perspective. I love reading good books, eating good food, and drinking good coffee. I’m always working on adding more random facts to my mental vault of useless information as we well as re-watching every episode of The Office in my quest to have every episode memorized.