“In many ways, I am a very boring man. I dress badly, I really like science. And I am partial to watching football. However, in other ways, I am an interesting man. I have a unique sense of dress. I really like science. And I am partial to watching football.” My point is that whether you think I am boring or not is really a matter of perspective. A christian life should be many things: selfless, challenging, transformative, stimulating intellectually, busy, and bring a sense of emotional stability, meaning and peace. But it should not be boring. In fact, if it is boring, you have a problem that you need to address! Jesus came to give us a full and fulfilling life now, and a hope for the future.
So, a key question is what do we mean by ‘boring’. The general connotation is: uninteresting, unexciting, dull, not much happening, an uneventful formal occasion (surely not a church service?!). But although most would agree with a definition of boring along these lines, exactly what we classify as boring is a very personal thing. I like microbiology. My wife does not. My wife likes period drama. It sends me to sleep!
I hope it will be useful to think about the elements that a christian life should contain.
- Selflessness. This is all about putting others before yourself (Phil2:3). It’s really quite difficult to be selfless and bored at the same time, which leads me to think that boredom may be an inherently selfish emotion.
- Sacrificial. As an extension of selflessness, we christians should be willing to sacrifice parts of ourselves to become closer to God. We are told to deny ourselves in order to follow Jesus (Luke9:23-24), and remove from our lives things that may be coming between us and God (Luke11:18). Important to add, though, that this should not be sacrifice for sacrifice’s sake (Col2:23).
- Annoying. I need to qualify this one. If you are not challenging your own behaviour then you are doing something wrong. Self-control is annoying because it means not doing what something inside you is craving. And self-control is a fundamental christian virtue.
- Challenging. God has promised to discipline those whom he loves, like a loving parent (Heb12:6) and we have to find a way to embrace these trials with joy (Jas1:2). I don’t think this can mean embrace them with a wide smile - but with a strong sense that this challenge, whatever it may be, is ultimately for our good.
- Transformative. We should be constantly trying to grow, develop and become more like Jesus. And so we will be a work in progress, towards a new creation (2Cor5:17).
- Intellectually stimulating. God created us so he knows that our minds need intellectual stimulation, and I believe he has configure the Bible in layers to cater for all minds (Prov25:2).
- Busy. I don’t mean so busy that you don’t have time to think about God, but busy like the virtuous woman (Prov31:10-31) and not lazy (Col3:23).
- Finally, christianity should bring emotional stability, hope, meaning, positivity, and peace (Gal5:22-23).
I accept that some people may choose to classify a christian life as boring, but I find it hard to see how a life filled with all of the above could be boring. There’s another angle here too: if you are a christian and you are finding christianity boring, there’s a problem. I think Jesus’ parable of the demon and the swept, clean house is relevant here. If your christianity is empty, something will come along and fill the void.
A related question to whether a christian life is boring is whether it’s ok for christians to have fun. Should it be a lifetime of reading Bibles and singing hymns? Once again, I think it’s important to define what we mean by fun. I think words such as enjoyable, exciting, and fulfilling come to mind. I’d like you to consider a scenario (which I appreciate is rather life-stage-specific so you may need to think of an life-stage-appropriate scenario for you):
Is it really that bad to go out and party and have a little innocent fun? I won’t get drunk; I’ll just have a few beers. I won’t go home with anyone; I’ll just flirt around a bit. I won’t go too far; I can stop when I have to.
I think the answer here is that much of what the world defines as fun is actually pretty unfulfilling and self-destructive (drink, drugs, infidelity etc). Although in each of these things there is a short-term ‘gain’ of some kind (otherwise there would be no reason to do them)! Solomon tried it all and concluded that, without God, everything is meaningless and like chasing the wind.
Our lives shouldn’t be about walking as close to the line of sin as possible without stepping over. So, yes, have fun. And yes, pursue your hobbies. But remember that ‘all things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful’ (1Cor10:23), and we are instructed to think about whatever is true, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy (Phil4:8).
A christian life should be anything but boring. It will not always be easy, but we can enjoy the ups and endure the downs knowing that Jesus has ‘come so that we may have life, and have it to the full’ (John10:10).