Confession time: I am personally not a big fan of Eugene Peterson’s The Message. There, I said it. There are several reasons for this, but the top few include:
1. It is often spoken of as a ‘translation’, when in fact it’s a paraphrase. Though he speaks of all of his original language work with the Hebrew and Greek, he often winds up using North American phraseology that in no way connects with the original language.
2. While modernizing the language makes scripture more accessible, it also makes it more likely to be read at face-value, without any attention to context or intent of the original authors.
3. And this is my main issue: no one should profit on the grand scale that he has in selling scripture. That just seems somehow wrong to me, and with all his new ‘versions’ constantly being rolled out like new iPhones, such as “The Message Remixed”, his profits just continue to skyrocket.
Now, go get yourself another cup of coffee while I jump off this massive soapbox I’ve climbed onto…
All of that being said, there is a place where Eugene gets it really right: John 1. Here it is (in fun design):
Three cheers for Eugene here! (My, haven’t I changed my tune.) This is what Advent is all about: preparing for the Word to become flesh and move into our neighborhoods. We Christian folk often talk a lot about Jesus coming into our hearts. I just don’t think that’s enough: our hearts can be home to all sorts of dark things: guilt, anger, hate, fear, worry. And generally we keep our hearts locked up tight so no one actually sees what’s hiding out inside. Christ doesn’t just want to be another thing collected in our safe-and-secure hearts. He wants to burst into our neighborhoods, and bring all of his friends with him: the poor, the lonely, the outcast, the unworthy. Let’s not dwell on Jesus coming into our hearts this Advent, there’s enough talk about that. Let’s instead ask what it would look like for him to come into our neighborhoods, challenging our fearful locked doors and superficial pleasantries with the earth-shattering reality that the Word Made Flesh is coming, even now.