The Bible is boring. Many people outside the church take this as given. For them, reading the Bible is like watching C-SPAN or counting blades of grass.
But, let’s be honest—Christians feel this way at times. And we’re unlikely to study a book we don’t find interesting.
We need to consider some important questions.
Is the Bible boring?
No, the Bible is not boring. Let’s not confuse a bored reader with a boring book.
The Bible is God’s word. If God is the creator and sustainer of every atom that exists; if he is infinitely holy, good, wise, and glorious; if he is the very definition of love; then everything about him must be interesting.
OK, so why does the Bible seem boring?
If God’s word seems boring, there’s either a problem with the reading or the reader.
For some, the Bible seems dull because they assume they know what it says. They think they’ve heard all the stories and learned all the rules. Instead of “living and active,” the Bible sounds repetitive and bland.
For others, the Bible appears boring because they read the text without engaging with it. We are meant to meditate upon the Bible, to read it with the expectation that God will meet with and change us.
Additionally, the Bible feels irrelevant if we forget who we are. We are created and corrupt. We depend on God both for life and salvation. When we lose our sense of ongoing need, we won’t be thrilled by God or what he’s done for us.
What should we do if the Bible seems boring?
First, we should acknowledge our need for God’s help. Even redeemed people need God’s Spirit to desire what is of supreme value. In other words, we should pray. (Read what John Piper suggests you pray when the Bible seems boring.)
Next, don’t confuse difficult with boring. The Bible is hard to understand in some places, but that doesn’t make it dull. In fact, like your backyard garden, Bible study is often most rewarding when it makes you sweat.
Further, not every Bible passage should be studied in the same way. A physics textbook is not a detective novel, and Proverbs is not Revelation. While you might spend several days looking carefully at the first ten verses of Ephesians 1, you won’t treat 1 Chronicles 1 the same way.
Some of the hardest parts of the Bible are the genealogies, the construction of the tabernacle, and the apportionment of the promised land to the tribes. Ask yourself, why did God include these chapters? What purpose do they serve? (This short article at Desiring God tackles Joshua 13–21 and the apportionment of the land.) We must do our best to read the Bible in context and seek the author’s intention in each passage.
Finally, when the Bible seems stale we might be tempted to import excitement. Maybe we’ll use a flashy study guide or dig around for some never-before-seen insight. If we chase ideas that are new or novel because we are afraid the Bible won’t hold our interest, we need to get back to the basics of Bible study.
Observe the text carefully. Ask questions, think about the author’s train of thought, and look for the main point. Connect the passage to the big story of the Bible, the gospel of Jesus Christ. And, with God’s help, apply the passage to yourself.
The goal of Bible study is the worship of God which spills over into all of life. As God transforms you, it might be uncomfortable, stretching, or disruptive. It will all be very good. But it certainly won’t be boring!