Summary: Face it, some parts of the Bible are boring. But if we believe what the Bible says of itself in II Timothy 3:16, that the WHOLE of Scripture is the inspired Word of God, then even those passages that SEEM boring will have a lot to teach us!
There are many wonderful texts from the Bible.
There are texts from the Bible that inspire.
There are texts from the Bible that bring to the eye, a tear.
There are those texts from the Bible that answer so clearly our questions of life that we suddenly feel the presence and power of God with such reality.
Our Scripture reading from Romans is none of the above. It is not a wonderful, much beloved passage. Few have probably said "My whole life changed that night in a hotel room when I picked up a Gideon’s Bible and turned to Romans 16:1 and read, "Say hello to Mary."
Do not feel guilty if during the course of reading this text, you did not feel inspiration, or emotion, or some spiritual insight.
I suppose that the best way to describe this text is to simply say that this is boring stuff.
But I believe what the Bible says about itself in 2 Timothy 3:16, when it says, "All Scripture is God-inspired and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness."
Now if we really believe that ALL Scripture is inspired by God, then we must believe that even those texts that ON THE SURFACE seem mundane, must have a great deal to teach us.
And yes, there are portions of the Bible that ON THE SURFACE may seem somewhat "dull."
After all, take a look at what we read. Romans 16 is nothing more than a LIST, and what could be more mundane and more boring than a list?
I can remember when I was in the 9th or 10th grade, I decided to read through the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation.
I did pretty well at first.
There’s the creation of the universe, sex, murder, the flood that wipes out everyone but Noah’s family.
Then came chapter 10....
1 This is the account of Shem, Ham and Japheth, Noah’s sons, who themselves had sons after the flood.
2 The sons of Japheth: Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech and Tiras.
3 The sons of Gomer: Ashkenaz, Riphath and Togarmah.
That’s it. Dead stop for me.
Page 12, and only a 1,219 more to go and I’m finished. Can’t make it through the list.
A few months latter, I’d rededicate myself to the goal of reading through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and I’d start once again at Genesis chapter 1 verse 1. And again, I’d do fine, until Page 12.
6 The sons of Ham: Cush, Mizraim, Put and Canaan.
7 The sons of Cush: Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah and Sabteca. The sons of Raamah: Sheba and Dedan.
This pattern repeated itself over and over until finally one day I realized, "Hey, I could skip this part." So I did and I found there were lots of things in the Bible that were interesting -- none of the interesting things were lists, however.
I come to Romans 16 and I think, "Oh man, not another list with a lot of hard to pronounce names."
Paul says hello to Priscalla and Aquila. Say hello to Mary. Say hello to Rufus. Say hello to Asyncritus, Phiegon, Hermes, Patrobas, ...
This is like a roll call in a class. How many of you have had this experience. You are in a class and you’ve got one of those teachers who feel it’s important to call the roll. And so the teacher begins calling out a list of names. You wait for your name to be called, and as you do, your mind begins to drift.
Then suddenly, you realize the teacher has stopped calling out names.
You look up, and everyone, including the teacher, is looking at you.
Your name was called, but you were not paying attention, you missed it.
Roll calls are like that. Boring. They put us to sleep.
And Romans 16 is almost like a roll call...
Say hello to Urbanus, and Apelles, and Julia.
It’s like reading the phone book.
David Letterman, on his late night television show, has a rather unusual sense of humor. Several years ago, someone on his staff took a survey and discovered that in the entire city of Bangor, Maine, not one single person was watching his show. In a silly effort to encourage the residents of Bangor, Maine to watch his show, each night for a week or two, David Letterman would pull out the telephone directory from Bangor, Maine, and he would read about a half dozen names.
Smith, David R.
Smith, David T.
Smith, David and Julia
Smith, Mr. and Mrs. E.R.
He did that as a joke of course. After all, what could be more boring than reading the phone book?
And yet, I’ll let you in on a secret. Every time I go to a new town on a trip, and after I’ve settled into the motel and I’m relaxing from the long drive or the plane flight, I pull out the phone book and look to see, if by some wild chance, to see if there is a person named Pittendreigh in the town.