There is one word you will never find in the Bible: boredom. I must admit when I listen to people who use the word, boredom, I see a red flag and become concerned for them. God created us to have a vibrant, joyful, and peaceful life – provided we stay close to him, his grace and guidance. Boredom and the Christian life are antithetical. The Lord loves adventure and delights in showing us something new and beautiful in his creation each day. During this most challenging time in our ongoing pandemic, we could easily become worn-out, tired, and bored. At the end of the summer, we usually get excited with the start of school, the beginnings of a fall schedule full of meaningful work and family activities. However, many of us are finding ourselves a bit confused and disoriented these days with few things on our calendars; we are noticing a constant stress of sheer survival tugging at our hearts and minds. We might be tempted now more than ever to say we are bored. Yet, how can we resist this temptation? I believe Christianity has an answer to this question. Reading the Bible on a continuous basis has become for me and countless other people for the past 2000 years, the best medicine available for injecting new life into our spirits. It will not cost you anything to try but your time. It is free and easy to access. If you have not tried it yet, I highly recommend you do!
Many of you know me as this person who flies around the world supporting frontier mission activities in some challenging areas where Christianity is often not warmly embraced. Well, you may not know that when I am not on the road, I am home, enjoying my family and friends, often ministering in my own local neighborhood. One of the things I enjoy the most when I am home is helping to lead three different men’s Bible studies each week and throughout the year – whether face-to-face or on Zoom. Few things give me greater joy than seeing men read the Bible for the first time for themselves, enjoying fellowship with each other, and finding new hope and vision for their lives each day. Our lives are not meant to be lived alone in isolation, as we are discovering in spades, during this pandemic.
The Bible is God’s greatest gift to humankind, if we will only pick it up and read it for ourselves! Too often, we allow someone else to interpret the Bible for us. As a result, we find ourselves at the mercy of the person teaching us about the Christian life. Without Biblical knowledge, we frequently rush to improper understandings of Christianity and inaccurate critiques of the Church not knowing what Jesus actually taught, said, or did. Reading the Bible is not the same experience as reading Shakespeare, beautiful poetry, or any other highly regarded piece of literature. The Bible was inspired and designed by God to put us in direct communication with him, his Son and Holy Spirit. Our hearts are often warmed and changed when we allow the truth of what we read in Scripture to wash over our souls. Our days become brand-new when we confess our waywardness and present our anxieties to our Lord and Good Shepherd. New friends and opportunities greet us each day, quickening our God-given talents and interests, and enabling us to help and serve others through greater capacities of love, which are not our own.
So, why in the world would people not want to read the Bible for themselves in a small group with other friends, or alone in the comfort of their own homes? Too often, we grab onto other more worldly entertainments, rather than search and provide for ourselves a quiet place to think, meditate, and pray on our own. Rather than view this current pandemic as a curse and insurmountable obstacle, could we instead view it as an opportunity to read the Bible and talk more often with God? Especially now when political parties, angry mobs, and terribly misled people on social media are luring us into greater hatred, fear, and anxiety – as if humanity itself was the only thing in control. God is a lot bigger and more powerful than those kinds of forces. Being rooted in him each day is a big gift. If we fail to pursue it, we will continue to be blown back and forth like trees in a strong windstorm.
In the United States, we are surrounded by opportunities to purchase Bibles for ourselves. Numerous translations are available, excellent commentaries can be purchased, and other materials can be found to help us read and understand the Bible. However, it is sad to say that what is true in the United States and in much of the Western world is not true everywhere. My other colleagues and I are highly motivated to help new believers in other areas of the world where possessing a Bible is against the law. The two Middle Eastern countries most in the news today, Iran and Saudi Arabia, actively try to keep people separated from access to the Bible for no other reason than fear that these seekers of truth may conclude that Jesus is the Messiah and son of God.
For the past five years, I have been actively involved in supporting the printing and distribution of Bibles for the underground church in Iran. The underground church in Iran has become the fastest growing church in the world. Nowhere in the world is the hunger for God’s Word greater than in Iran. There are just not enough Bibles to go around! I have heard numerous stories of old, worn, heavily underlined Bibles being shared amongst new believers, secretly passed between cars at stop lights, handed to people in outdoor markets via food baskets, or through the internet and pizza truck deliveries. The Bible has become the most treasured and sought-after possession for these new believers in Iran. At the cost of $6.00 per Bible, I can help you deliver God’s Word to these dear people who are starving for the Lord’s presence found in reading the Bible for themselves. Please let me know if you or your church would be interested in helping to supply this need. Also, please pray for the brave people who are secretly printing these Bibles. Already, a few of these efforts have been discovered, resulting in the forced closing of businesses with owners thrown in jail and harassed for indefinite time periods.
When we read the Bible, our souls and spirits are enlivened and expanded more than we know. Reading the Bible is not just a cognitive experience; our entire being is involved. If we allow God’s Word to confront, encourage, and cleanse us, give us new life each day, our hunger for wanting to read it on a regular basis grows. My favorite verses which describe the beauty and wonder of reading Scripture are as follows: “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.” (Hebrews 4: 12-13)
Please do not allow yourself to be bored. It is not a great place to find yourself. It is actually one of the saddest places you can be when you consider the new life, excitement and adventure the Lord has waiting for you each day if you take the time to read his Scripture, meditate and pray. The Bible even goes so far as to say that we are not fully alive until we are resting in his forgiveness, grace, and wisdom. When our spirits finally find rest in his care, become humble and wanting to learn from a power and love greater than ourselves, we take the first steps toward the greatest adventure of our lives, going wherever the Lord may lead us that day and throughout our future days as well. We will never be bored again.