Although I've had my Message version of the Bible for almost a year now, I'm only just getting around to reading the Gospels. I absolutely love this version because translator Eugene Peterson has made the text so strikingly blunt and relevant -- much like God is, I think. God does not beat around the bush, and neither does The Message.
And just because The Message version is a paraphrase doesn't mean that it's less accurate than other translations. Peterson is a linguistics master, and he and his team went back to the texts in their original languages to ensure that they were wording things right -- meaning that The Message version is often more accurate than other translations because it doesn't try to give a word-for-word translation (which fall short because some words simply don't translate from Greek and Aramaic into English), but instead has the freedom to use different words to best express the original meanings.
Anyway, I digress. That's my little Bible translation soapbox. ;) But it's not the focus of this post.
As I was saying before my little, um, rant -- I'm only just getting around to reading the Gospels in The Message version. Yesterday I read Matthew 5, which contains the Beatitudes, a well-known set of teachings from the early part of Jesus' ministry. While the traditional translations are certainly beautiful, I found The Message version incredibly powerful and wanted to share.
When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:
"You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
"You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
"You're blessed when you're content with just who you are—no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought.
"You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God. He's food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat.
"You're blessed when you care. At the moment of being 'care-full,' you find yourselves cared for.
"You're blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
"You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family."
This is not the full set of teachings (you can find the rest here), but the ones which impacted me most. Not only that, but I've experienced many of them to be true in my own life. And I love that Jesus addresses mental health ("You're blessed when you get your inside world -- your mind and heart -- put right"), which reminds me that God does care about our battles against disordered eating, and is working to put us right.
How did these verses affect you? Do you find that your faith, whatever it may be, is relevant to your daily living and struggles?