Day 347 | Monday, 1 March 2021
From The Church Mouse
In Doug’s offering for Sunday, he listed Romans 4:13-25 from the Message. I don’t usually stray into his area, but that same scripture was read ahead of Pastor Sue’s excellent message at Christ First UMC. I was drawn to every word, so I thought that you might be interested in a closer look at this scripture from The Message.
The Message is the Bible in contemporary language, a highly idiomatic translation of the Bible by Rev. Eugene H. Peterson, published in segments from 1993 to 2002. It is a simple translation of the Bible’s original languages.
NavPress describes Rev. Eugene Peterson as one who “lived the joy of the Christian life. Intent on sharing it with others, he found himself translating the Bible for his congregation. A scholar of the Greek and Hebrew languages, Peterson worked to get the ancient text in their language while being true to the Bible’s original languages. Peterson never tired of sharing the invitation that is God’s Word.” For his work on The Message, Rev. Eugene Peterson received the Prestigious ECPA Gold Medallion Book Award. I use the NIV plus The Message when I read or study. You may use The Message daily on messagebible.com. Use Romans 4:14-25 here from The Message and compare it with Romans 4:14-25 in your translation. See what you think.
Romans 4:14-25 The Message
14 If those who get what God gives them only get it by doing everything they are told to do and filling out all the right forms properly signed, that eliminates personal trust completely and turns the promise into an ironclad contract! That's not a holy promise; that's a business deal.
15 A contract drawn up by a hard-nosed lawyer and with plenty of fine print only makes sure that you will never be able to collect. But if there is no contract in the first place, simply a promise - and God's promise at that - you can't break it.
16 This is why the fulfillment of God's promise depends entirely on trusting God and his way, and then simply embracing him and what he does. God's promise arrives as pure gift. That's the only way everyone can be sure to get in on it, those who keep the religious traditions and those who have never heard of them. For Abraham is father of us all. He is not our racial father - that's reading the story backwards. He is our faith father.
17 We call Abraham "father" not because he got God's attention by living like a saint, but because God made something out of Abraham when he was a nobody. Isn't that what we've always read in Scripture, God saying to Abraham, "I set you up as father of many peoples"? Abraham was first named "father" and then became a father because he dared to trust God to do what only God could do: raise the dead to life, with a word make something out of nothing.
18 When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn't do but on what God said he would do. And so he was made father of a multitude of peoples. God himself said to him, "You're going to have a big family, Abraham!"
19 Abraham didn't focus on his own impotence and say, "It's hopeless. This hundred-year-old body could never father a child." Nor did he survey Sarah's decades of infertility and give up.
20 He didn't tiptoe around God's promise asking cautiously skeptical questions. He plunged into the promise and came up strong, ready for God,
21 sure that God would make good on what he had said.
22 That's why it is said, "Abraham was declared fit before God by trusting God to set him right."
23 But it's not just Abraham;
24 it's also us! The same thing gets said about us when we embrace and believe the One who brought Jesus to life when the conditions were equally hopeless.
25 The sacrificed Jesus made us fit for God, set us right with God.
Lord, may my faith be as trusting and as strong as that of “Father Abraham.” Lord, hear our prayers. Amen