Could not sleep so was up in the wee hours of the morning reading a few scriptures in a translation (Message) that often causes me to take a second glance. My years of theological study and ministry were based around a few well respected translations from the Greek. I have come to know the verses well. I am accustomed to the ebb and flow of their lingo. This might be great for retention, but the danger with this familiarity is that I often read passages too quickly, thinking I already know what they are about to say.
I find I rarely read a whole chapter in this Message translation because I usually get stopped up within a few short verses. I read them, and re-read them again because the new wording captivates me. Eventually, I end up comparing the verse with my familiar translation, and then get lost in thought caused by the fresh take. This isn’t profound exegesis, but, it is refreshing. I am forced to think.
We want a blessing! We all want a blessing! The TV gospel will sell us one every day.
A Psalm in the Message hit me.
Bless God, all creatures, wherever you are—
everything and everyone made by God.
And you, O my soul, bless God! (Message)
I am to bless God? Isn’t that backwards?
We are blessed to be a blessing. The principal is there; whatever goodness we receive, we pass on to others also. There is no hording in God’s kingdom economics. But this idea that I am to bless God……….. wow!
What might blessing God look like in a real life like mine?
Then yet another verse I read slapped me up the side of the head. To Bless God, maybe I might actually have to hear him out.
Peter fairly exploded with his good news: “It’s God’s own truth, nothing could be plainer: God plays no favorites! It makes no difference who you are or where you’re from—if you want God and are ready to do as he says, the door is open. The Message he sent to the children of Israel—that through Jesus Christ everything is being put together again—well, he’s doing it everywhere, among everyone. (Message)
“The door is open”, Peter “exploded”(what a vivid adjective displaying his bubbling passion). A door is meant to serve a function – as an entrance or as an exit, or not used at all, I suppose, so that we can remain where we are.
God wants to put everything “together again”.
- Do I want to partner with God in any of this?
- What is God putting back together?
- How is God putting things back together?
- Does this interest me?
- Am I happy to have God put things back together in this way?
- What if God’s idea does not fit mine?
For several decades now our Western culture has been on a path to re-invent our morality, our gods, our faith, our spirituality, our religions. We want to reform, re-imagine, and rewrite. I’d even go so far as to say more extreme elements of our society what to erase some things as well.
But if God is real he is calling for us to discover what was true and real all along. All of creation is built on Truth. The truth is here, always has been here. The universe breathes truth, the universe is buoyant on this Truth and reality.
Therefore, every leap forward for the people of God, and for science even, seems to be in the discovery of something old, the discovery of something ancient, something true that has always been in operation. Science, to a certain degree, is the discovery of what happened, what is happening, and what will continue to happen. Science observes and discovers, it does not create any new mechanisms for the universe, it is simply finding out what those mechanisms are. Science is dealing with historical reality, that is real today, just like our soul is trying to do.
If someone claims, “I know him well!” but doesn’t keep his commandments, he’s obviously a liar. His life doesn’t match his words. But the one who keeps God’s word is the person in whom we see God’s mature love. This is the only way to be sure we’re in God. Anyone who claims to be intimate with God ought to live the same kind of life Jesus lived. (Message)
1 John 2:4-6
Spiritually, it seems we need to understand the past. What was said, what was commanded, what was written. Verse like this in the Message translation pull no punches. We don’t find them palatable in our age because we are full of our own importance, we think our wisdom is “wow”.
Verses like this, are in effect, God telling me exactly what my sister told me in our youth, “You are not the boss of me.”
Now lets put together the words from the passages that challenged me, the ones I underlined in the Message translation.
- “Bless God….. oh my Soul Bless God.” Psalm 103
- “if you want God and are ready to do as he says, the door is open. Acts 10
- “I know him Well”, but doesn’t keep his commandments ????????? 1 John 2
- “Claims to be intimate with God …… live the same kind of life Jesus lived.”
Just how do I bless God?
Well, I might give a hoot about what he has to say about reality and truth. I might give a hoot about what He is doing, or wants to do based on this. What exactly did God say about reality? What exactly is God up to anyway? How do connect with God? How does God relate to humans, and how are we to relate to each other in turn?
This is the journey that changes everything.
Why? My life shifts from the human invention paradigm, to the rediscovery of what is, paradigm.
Let’s make no mistake about it, either choice takes us to very different sources.
That is a colossal shift, and it remains to be seen who can make it.
Is it one churches can make in this modern era? So many churches I am part of are trying to invent new things, new ways, as if that is the answer to their waning numbers, as if that is their new purpose. The church needs to rediscover their core identity as the people of God, as a people in relationship to others, and with God.