The human brain craves stimulation. When we don’t receive proper stimulation, boredom creeps in. When boredom is left unchecked, disgust forms. Things get worse from there. This phenomenon is seen often in animals confined to cages for long periods of time.
But, in one horrific case, the devastating effects of boredom were seen on a child. Genie was born in 1957, and for the first thirteen years of her life she was confined to a small bedroom with two blacked-out windows. She was often tied to a toilet seat and rarely fed solid food. When authorities found Genie, in 1970, she had not acquired a language and had the mental capacity of an 18-month-old.
This is an extreme example of boredom’s toxic effects. But boredom, in small doses, is actually healthy. Boredom protects you. When you engage in monotonous tasks, listen to mono-toned speakers, or join an organization that accepts mediocrity, boredom acts as a red flag. This red flag compels you to go deeper, start something new, or engage in a creative task.
But, the longer you accept boredom, ignoring the red flag, the more things become dangerous. Prolonged boredom leads to cynicism, anger, distrust, and a host of other issues.
When I think about the landscape of American Christianity, the red flag is up. Boredom has moved from healthy to unhealthy levels for many Christians. Worship is unfulfilling. Expectations towards God are low. Many wake up every day and are content with going through the motions. Arguing and cynical behavior are high. Why is it that God offers people a life to the fullest, yet many Christians (starting with me) seem to live on life support?
If the red flags are up and you are bored with God, I want to share with you some things I have witnessed in my own life. Here are 6 reasons you are bored with God.
1.) You read the Bible and pray every day.
Yes, you read that correctly. Many Christians continue to read a Bible that does nothing to their heart. They pray, and their words mean nothing. Somehow, many Christians have come to believe continuing a lifeless spiritual discipline is more important than finding new ways to experience a life-giving God.
Seriously. Think about it. Do you feel guilty on those days when you don’t open the Bible? I confess. I do. And, several weeks ago, I had an “AHA” moment. I was reading like a good Christian boy, and I came across the story of Jesus walking on water (Matthew 14:22-33). I finished reading the chapter, closed my Bible, and started praying.
Before I said anything, I heard God say, “You have become too familiar with the Bible. Do you not realize that Jesus just walked…on water!!”
I responded with, “Seriously, God? I didn’t know that was really water?! Can I read it again?” (Me and God have a sarcastic relationship like that.)
For the next week, I didn’t read the Bible. It was the longest span away from Scripture since my baptism. You see, the Bible tells stories of a God who speaks the world into existence, floods an entire earth, makes the sun stand still, and walks on water. These stories are designed to paint a picture of God’s character. And the picture should cause you to bow down in worship and jump with joy…at the same time.
One of the greatest threat to American Christianity is familiarity with an all-powerful God. When you read stories like a real man taking steps on open water, it should cause you to stop and think. Things like this aren’t normal. You know why? God’s not normal. He’s not like you and me.
Don’t be enslaved to reading the Bible every day. It’s not a command. Be enslaved to knowing and encountering God in new and fresh ways.
2.) You are disconnected from God’s creation.
Richard Louv has a fascinating book called The Nature Principle. In this book, he says for the first time in history, more than half of the world’s population lives in cities, rather than rural environments. The result is “nature-deficit disorder,” which Louv defines as “a diminished ability to find meaning in the life that surrounds us, whatever form it takes.”
When I read this I think about Paul’s words in Romans.
For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.Romans 1:20
The more you disconnect from God’s creation, the more you disconnect from God. And, let’s be real, most of us would rather play video games or watch Netflix for an entire day than spend time outside. We are pretty disconnected from God’s creation.
Maybe this speaks to why many Christians are bored with God. Every inch of God’s creation reveals something about his character. There is a certain peace and “completeness” that comes with being outside.
I felt this recently when my family went camping. I was never a camper. But I reluctantly agreed to go because Tiffani loves to camp. I remember leaving Thursday afternoon, my mind restless and my heart anxious. But something happened the next two days. A weird peace came over me as I spent time in the woods. As we prepared to head home, I was so unconcerned with social media and e-mail that I packed my phone in the tent. When I realized my phone was inside a tent that took fifteen minutes to fold, I tried to blame everything on Tiffani. It didn’t work.
Being honest…I didn’t want my phone back. I experienced something in two days with my family and God’s creation that I hadn’t experienced in years of increased exposure to technology.
Turn off the Xbox. Put down the phone. Go for a walk. Sit outside. Go camping. God’s invisible qualities are waiting there for you.
3.) You don’t invest time in meaningful relationships.
I bet every dollar I ever make that the most bored, cynical, pessimistic people are the ones with the fewest meaningful relationships. You were created for social interaction. God, after all, lives in community with the Trinity. He has for all of eternity.
I see this in my life. I am an introvert, and there are seasons when I disengage from people as a way to deal with stress or disappointment. Ironically, the more I disengage from meaningful conversations and neglect important relationships, the more stress I feel.
I don’t think it’s ironic that America is becoming more individualistic while boredom and its relatives (anxiety, stress, discontent, and depression) are higher than ever. Our country has transitioned from a front porch to a back porch culture. And this shift has affected our health in more ways than we realize.
Don’t come into a church building one hour a week, then wonder why your relationship with God is more fickle than an eighth-grade girl.
You must invest in relationships with people to experience a full understanding of God.
4.) You aren’t living out your unique purpose and calling.
For years, I have been in church. Thousands of worship services, small group gatherings, and mission trips. Through all of this, one thought has haunted my mind.
There has to be more to Christianity than this.
Ever been haunted by this thought? It won’t leave you. No matter how much you read the Bible, participate in a small group, or show up for worship on Sunday morning, the thought won’t go away.
That voice isn’t the ghost of discontent. It’s the voice of God. It’s a red flag calling you to engage your unique purpose.
You were created for a purpose. There is a specific reason you are here. That reason has nothing to do with you. It is larger than you. It’s about showing God to the world through your unique gifts and talents.
You weren’t created to amass a huge bank account, live comfortably in a mansion, or work a 9-5 just for a paycheck. You weren’t made to fill a spot on a pew. Don’t mock God by living a mediocre life.
The next time you hear that soft voice whisper, “There has to be more to Christianity than this.” Respond by saying, “You’re right, God. I have an extraordinary purpose. Give me the courage to be brave. Give the capacity to love radically. Give me the wisdom to see where you want me to go.”
I think it’s a scary thing if you don’t hear that voice pleading for more. It’s most likely a sign that you have accepted mediocrity and boredom.
That’s dangerous stuff.
5.) You spend more time doing things for God than being alone with God.
As I said above, boredom isn’t a negative emotion. In fact, a recent article found that boredom is essential for human development and unlocking creative potential.
To avoid a life plagued by boredom, you must have intentional periods of boredom. Call it the paradox of boredom.
Here’s what it means for Christians. If you want to avoid a discontent, overwhelmed existence, the rhythm of your life must include periods of resting. You must be still and know that God is…God.
Too many Christians are sucked into the speed of the world. The world responds to boredom by going faster and doing more. After all, what other framework does the world have?
But Christians should be like the grandma everyone passes on the freeway. You know the one. She’s received multiple tickets for driving under the minimum speed limit.
Would you call those “speeding tickets”?
Maybe you need to learn the practice of holy boredom. When was the last time you observed the Sabbath? How long has it been since you spent an extended amount of time with God?
The mouthpiece of God is silence. So, if you’re overwhelmed with life, always discontent, maybe you need to disconnect from the noise of the world.
6.) You don’t recognize the miracles God performs in everyday life.
Almost daily, I do something that leaves my two boys saying, “Dad, how did you that?” You might think I’m a wizard or something. But you would be wrong. What usually amazes them is something trivial like opening a bag of chips or spelling my name. Anything I do outside of their control is miraculous to my boys. In their eyes, performing miracles is my favorite past time.
While I’m not a miracle worker, God is. And Christians are bored with God, at least partly, because they don’t see the miracles God performs all around them, every day.
“But Frank. I don’t believe God performs miracles anymore. The Bible says so.”
First of all, the Bible doesn’t say so. You have probably been taught a faulty interpretation of 1 Corinthians 13. Secondly, if you don’t believe God performs miracles, what exactly do you believe in? Is God not all-powerful?
Three months ago, I witnessed a miracle in my living room. From the time Tiffani and I started hosting a small group in our home, one student, in particular, was always disinterested. He would show up, but he never engaged. He would crack jokes as we studied Scripture. He played on his phone during prayer. His roommate was so concerned about his faith that he came to our house a couple of times just to pray for him.
The school year concluded in early May, and this guy spent the next two months interning with his wife at her home church. One night in early July, he showed up for a Bible study. What I saw blew my mind. He was engaged. His heart overflowed with passion for God. He even commented several times.
The transformation was nothing short of a miracle.
After everyone left, I went to my room and cried. I repented for not believing God could work miracles. The God I serve is a miracle worker. Every time new life comes from a mother’s womb, a miracle is performed. Every day, as the sun peeks its rays over the horizon, a miracle is performed.
When God becomes logical, faith becomes boring. Fight the temptation. Open your eyes to the miracles He performs all around you, every day.
Boredom isn’t the problem. Unchecked boredom is. Don’t ignore the red flags. Don’t close your eyes to the new adventures God might place in your life. Live expectantly. Look for evidence of God everywhere.
It’s time to stop accepting mediocre Christianity. It’s time to go deeper. It’s time to live the abundant life by leaning into our amazing God.
I love you all. To God be the glory forever. Amen!