Dear Friends,

I heard Eugene Peterson speak in October 1984.   It was World Series time.  I remember that because I know I had a radio to my ear keeping up with the Tigers-Padres game while paying occasional attention to what he was saying.

Eugene Peterson is one of the spiritual giants of our day.  One of his great achievements has been “The Message”.  It is the Bible in the language we use today.  It took him nine years.  Here is what Peterson says of the origins of this project:

While I was teaching a class on Galatians, I began to realize that the adults in my class weren’t feeling the vitality and directness that I sensed as I read and studied the New Testament in its original Greek. Writing straight from the original text, I began to attempt to bring into English the rhythms and idioms of the original language. I knew that the early readers of the New Testament were captured and engaged by these writings and I wanted my congregation to be impacted in the same way. I hoped to bring the New Testament to life for two different types of people: those who hadn’t read the Bible because it seemed too distant and irrelevant and those who had read the Bible so much that it had become ‘old hat.’
We are using “The Message” in our Journey to Hope series.  This morning one verse jumped out at me.  Mark 7:18.  Here’s how this verse reads in the King James Version:  “And he saith unto them, ‘Are ye so without understanding also?'”  Huh? Here is the same verse in The Message:  “Jesus said, ‘Are you being willfully stupid?'”I think that’s exactly what Jesus meant!  Willfully stupid.  We can be stupid without knowing any better.  That’s one thing.  That’s not a good thing, but it’s not as serious as being stupid while you know very well you are being stupid but you go right ahead anyway!  That’s being “willfully stupid”.  Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees here.  But I can’t shake the feeling that he’s also speaking to me.

I should be old enough to know better.  I’m not sure if I was being willfully stupid or just stupid when I was paying more attention to the World Series than my one and only chance to hear Eugene Peterson.  I was younger then.  But as I examine my spiritual life as a “mature person”, there is still much that needs attention.  I may be stupid.  There’s only so much that can be done about that.  But I don’t want to be willfully stupid.  I can do something about that.  And Lent is the perfect time.

In Christ,