I was talking recently to someone who grew up in a traditional denominational church his whole life. He was visiting my family when he saw my Bible laying on the table and opened it up to and read a genealogy, those boring lists of names of names most of us can’t pronounce. He also read and questioned the point of another equally as uninspiring section in Nehemiah. This person told me when I was taking a grad class on the Old Testament that the Old Testament was boring. If I’m honest, I would agree. Parts of the Bible can be boring, confusing and often not seemingly applicable to real life problems. So this got me thinking. Why would someone who has a pretty decent life, goes to church and is a nice enough person be compelled to read the Bible? What would be the motivation to read something they think is uninteresting and lacks relevance to their life? This person also alluded to how boring church is, so again I wondered, why go to church then? I mean, I don’t know about you but I certainly have plenty to do on a Sunday rather than go to a place that bores me that is based on a seemingly non-nonsensical, boring book. So really, why bother? (I do not mean this sarcastically or facetiously; I genuinely pondered this for days).
Besides the hope issue I have blogged about multiple times lately, here is what I would tell friend, someone who came to hear me speak or even my kids my rationale for reading the Bible or going to church (boring, difficult or otherwise). When life is going along pretty seamlessly and you don’t have the need or desire to try and figure out God’s Word or stay awake for that hour on Sunday I have concluded that the impetus to do so comes down to love. Sounds cliché I know, but after a lot of thought I have decided that left to my own thinking, acting and speaking I am a sarcastic, self-centered person (not that I do that great with Jesus, but I’m even worse without Him). Yes, I can be nice on the outside (in public) and I can easily fake looking like a nice person, but the condition and motives of my heart is darker and uglier without knowing and trying to live what God talks about in the Bible. If I did not read and know God’s Word, what would be my motivation to try to be kind to or pray for people who cut me off in traffic, bully one of my kids or is rude to me? If I did not spend time reading God’s Word and trying to figure it out when it is difficult or seems irrelevant, why would I have any desire to think about my husband instead of being selfish and manipulative or why would I care about trying to judge others less? Being manipulative and judgmental comes very naturally for me; my default settings, if you will. Our culture (and my own brain, without Jesus) tells me to watch out for #1, ensure I’m always happy and to love those who love me back and deserve it. The Bible tells me to love my enemies, be content with what I have and to build and encourage others up (whether I feel like it or not). The Bible tells me to do everything that is illogical, counter cultural and counter what I would like to do, say and feel. So after all my pondering I have decided then that everyone should be motivated to read the Bible and go to church. Because if you really believe God’s Word really comes down to love, then it seems safe to assume that all of us have room to improve in the way we love and without Jesus, I know I do not love as well, as deeply or as unconditionally as I can be.
“Dear God, Thank you for showing me how to love, both in the way you lived your life and through your Word. Please help me to read your Word whether I feel like it or not or whether I even understand it or not because when we seek your Word out, meditate on it for more than the two minutes I often give it and really want to know you better through it, it changes us. That change is always more slowly than I would like and the lessons I learn I usually have to learn over and over again, but that change is helping me to look more like you. And if I buy into the fact that the Bible really will and can help me to love those around me better, then clearly the stakes are too high for me to give up because I don’t feel like trying to put forth the effort (whether I have the desire to or not). In Your Name, Amen.”