When The Bible Doesn’t Feel Exciting

by Kathryn Tilmes

Everyone has had a teacher who taught them to love a particular subject. English and History always came easily for me, so it was natural for me to enjoy those teachers and my time in their classes. Math and Science were much more difficult for me to get excited about. I dreaded going to those classes, and, by no fault of the teachers, they were doomed to be some of my least favorite simply because I didn’t feel confident in their classes. That is, until my Algebra teacher, Mr. Unger.

Mr. Unger was an incredibly intelligent man who boasted degrees from Harvard University and Harvard Law (though he didn’t actually boast about it at all). He was oddly charming in the way he made up victory dances in the front of the classroom when someone solved a problem, told stories from his past, and made math miraculously easy for me to understand. 

If you’ve ever felt stuck in a rut of finding the Bible exciting to open, let me suggest getting to know the teacher. There is a time and a place to get excited about the intricacies of the Old Testament or the intentional themes that span the entire Bible. But this won’t always be the case. Sometimes a “Bible-in-a-Year” plan can be tricky because you’re in the thick of Leviticus feeling uninspired and considering closing the Bible to never open it again. You’re not the first to find the Bible boring, and you won’t be the last.

When I was a junior in high school, I could have spent hours at my desk trying to memorize jumbled numbers and letters that somehow represented an equation. But it was Mr. Unger’s humor and care that made me excited to show up to his classroom—the rest came naturally.

Open the Gospels. Get to know Jesus. Not the Jesus of American culture, but the actual Jesus of the Bible—the one who healed the sick, loved the lame and changed people’s lives forever. The one who was full of truth and full of grace.

Start with Matthew 1 and keep going until you get to the end of John. Then, start over if it feels right. Take some time getting to know Jesus intimately. Crowds of people followed him to hear his stories and watch him do miraculous things. And now it’s written down for you to experience close up. Take notes on where he was born and who showed up, how he proved himself fully human and fully God, the way he encountered strangers and changed them forever, his faithfulness to his mission on earth up to death on a cross, the way he talks to God, the way he talks to his closest friends, the way he paces himself. Take note of it all. Knowing the teacher will make you grow more in awe of him. And then, the rest will come naturally.

A Few Practical Tips to Make Reading More Fun:

Do what works best for you! Don’t force yourself to read in the morning if it’s easier for you to read in the afternoon or evening. There is not a set time of day we’re told to read. But whenever we show up to spend time in the Word of God, we’ll leave refreshed.

Pick a translation that is easiest for you to understand. The ESV, CSB, NLT and NIV are translations of the Bible in modern-day English, so I’d recommend one of those. The Message is a paraphrase of the Bible that retells the stories in a modern language. This may be a helpful tool to reference if you come across something that is confusing.

If it comes naturally for you, let yourself be creative during quiet time. Grab watercolors and paper to paint as you read. Doodle a verse that stuck out to you. Sketch how you envision Jesus to look and act based on the Scripture you read.

Use a journal to write about what you read. Answer these questions after each section of scripture:

  • What does this tell me about Jesus?
  • What does this tell me about myself?
  • What does this tell me about following Jesus?
  • What am I going to do about it?

Taking what we learn from Scripture and putting it into action is called obedience, and it makes following Jesus feel like an adventure. 

Recommended Resources

If you struggle finding time in your day to read the Bible, try using the app Dwell. It reads the Bible to you, so you can listen to Scripture on your drive to school or work, or while you’re on a walk. If you do this, I recommend talking to friends about what you’re learning.

If you’re feeling uninspired or confused by the stories in the Gospels, watch videos from The Bible Project. They do a really great job of making big theological ideas easy to understand.

Image credit: Emily Brustoski

About Kathryn Tilmes

Kathryn is an INFP, Enneagram four, a big fan of personality tests, a wife, manager, and wannabe-writer. Her truest identity, though, is rooted in her relationship with Jesus. Her mission is to love God, love people, and equip young women to do the same.
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