Welcome back dear reader. What was your favorite firework you saw this past 4th of July?
I heard articulated a piece of advice just a few weeks ago I thought I’d share with you. Can you relate to the frustration of sitting down to perform a task (undesirable at worst, benign at best) to only be able to concentrate on literally every other thing you need to be doing? A life hack I heard suggested compiling 2 or 3 of these tasks together and procrastinating on each task by working on one of the others. Don’t want to write that article??? No worries; go arrogantly do those dishes instead. Hate folding laundry? Go paint that room despite all those shirts that are about to be wrinkled, just sitting on the sofa. Hope this helps… Let me know how this works out for you. Only scientifically minded responses will be taken seriously.
But it is So Boring
Don’t you just love it when you have an empty Saturday, no responsibilities and some time to kill all to yourself? How many of you, at that moment, grab your drink of choice (sparkling water is my vote), and sit down on the sofa to read the phone book, or Webster’s Dictionary? Perhaps some of y’all may enjoy an encyclopedia or textbook. I don’t think many of us get excited to read Anna Karina or Shakespeare… or better yet, some translated copy of Enuma Elis?
If you are expecting me to, in this article, try and convince you the phone book you are not wanting to read ought to be than yes, you would be correct. Go read it and I’ll wait…
Reading the Bible can easily feel like this. It is full of measurements, beliefs, phrases, assumptions and culture we do not understand. Therefore, while we know it is important, it is easy to ask, “How” and walk away from it wondering what we are missing. One of the best pieces of advice I was given was that if the Bible is boring to you, you’re reading it wrong. Oh, you say… how do you spice up Leviticus? Glad you asked! Let me grab the salt shaker and paprika. But let me get to the point the best way I know how- through an acre and a half of bushes.
Do you have a hobby or sport you know others find weird or benign? I’m sure we are all interested in things others would find goofy or pointless to some degree. Over the years I cannot adequately communicate how much grief I’ve received because of my love of NASCAR. The generic, “they are taking another left turn!” while accurate, is a caricature of the sport. How would you like it if I said golf is just hitting a little dimpled white ball into a hole. Hurts doesn’t it!
For someone who doesn’t like NASCAR, or your hobby, the rules would seem beyond tedious! And if you had never been to a race, or gotten to know the drivers I would definitely agree. But the rules that are the spice of the sport. They are the flavor we all want. It is because there are rules we can cheer and bite our fingers when the white flag is flown and our favorite driver is in the “cat-bird seat”.
If you’re not sure about this, let me attack it from another angle. Very few people pick up a rule book for water polo and immediately fall in love with the sport. In an overwhelmingly practical sense they don’t know the sport at all. What excites people to their favorite sport, hobby, etc., is the culture that surrounds it. It is the personalities, the difficulties, the history and the comradely we all share within our own interest groups. We fall in love with this aspect of the sport or hobby first!
When the sport or hobby becomes enjoyable in and of itself, then the rules and details become not only necessary but also enjoyable. They keep all involved at the same level. When NASCAR lovers hear about many of the sport’s rules or requirements, they immediately remember the issue or crash that necessitated it. The rule, in a sense, becomes part of the identity and history of the sport.
If you were to pick up the Bible, and immediately feel panicky because 1 Chronicles 25 is what’s next on your devotional reading list (go ahead and look it up-I dare you to read it), remember, it’s not the chapter that is lacking excitement, it’s our understanding of the context and culture that’s sucking the spice out of it.
The Ancient Near Eastern culture, the first century Jewish culture and the Roman/Greek culture in which the Bible is set in is understood by so few on any significant level. We don’t all need to become experts in these historical pursuits, but know these do hold the key to understanding the traditionally dryer passages in our Protestant Canon. I would advise any of you to pick an area that interests you about the Bible you don’t know much about. For some it may be ancient trade routes, others it may be Roman military structure and battle tactics; perhaps even less might be Egyptian Mythology. It could be 1 of a million things that grab your attention. But take hold of that and begin learning. You will inevitably learn more and interest in one thing leads you to chasing so many rabbits. The pay off is when you, in your quiet time, read a scripture and understand-in context- the significance and intention of a passage that previously was sermonized superficially by a minister or devotional book.
The more you learn, the more you can share with others. We cannot all focus on the same things. There just aren’t enough hours in a lifetime to do that. But we can bless the body, honor God, and fall in love with the rules in such a way as to love God more and show others His love.
Until next time,