I used to hate The Message.
I learned that posture from true “Bible” preachers and teachers. I heard it trashed, bashed, and smashed.
So necessarily, if I didn’t like the translation, the translator must be weak, shallow, etc…
Some folks–pastors especially–still think Eugene Peterson is less than for writing The Message. Or, they poo-poo him because he didn’t grow a megachurch.
But one scan of the other books he’s written, for pastors mind you, and it’s clear that there’s the deep end of the pool, and then beyond that there’s Eugene.
A scholar of ancient languages who gave up what was sure to have been a lustrous career as a professor in the field of Ancient Near Eastern studies, Peterson chose the mantle of pastor–or, as he would surely say, it chose him.
Now allow me to quote the man whom God has used to give me hope on dreary days and water in the dry seasons.
This passage informs ministry at every level, both corporate and personal.
19-23 Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!
24-25 You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally.
26-27 I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.
God’s grace be upon you as you train, persevere, and press on for the sake of pointing people to Jesus.