I walked into Family Christian Bookstores a few weeks ago. It was, I’ll admit, a little depressing – while the store was full of people, I imagined that it was a rare occasion. The store – like all the others in the chain – is closing. Frankly that’s why I was there. I wanted to purchase a new Bible, and because I didn’t have a lot of extra money in our budget at the moment, I wanted to take advantage of the closing sale prices.
Sadly, the minimal 10 percent discount simply wasn’t enough for my wallet, and I walked out and promptly bought the book on Amazon for almost half the price.
Yes, I too fall prey to the big guy. I run a small business and yet 2-day free shipping gets me every time.
So, two days later I have the new Bible in my hands. And it’s beautiful. I picked the new Message Bible, and like the hip-happening trend, it happens to be The Message Canvas Bible, AKA a journaling Bible. I’m not one to paint all over verses – though I’m not against those who are – but I wanted more margin to write things down.
And I wanted conversation.
I know the Message Bible isn’t canon. I know the translator, Eugene Peterson, took the original texts and translated it into modern idiom. He never meant it as a study tool, but as a reading Bible. And frankly, that’s what I need at the moment. I’ve grown up reading and studying all the “proper” translations, but I’m ready for something a little different for a short period of time. Because a book written by a normal guy has changed everything I’ve thought about Jesus and this religion thing and I want to rediscover everything I’ve learned about God.
Have you ever read Beautiful Outlaw by John Eldredge? At first, when my husband suggested we read it – Eldredge is his favorite author – I dismissed it. I shouldn’t: my husband isn’t a reader, and the fact that he wanted to go through a book with me meant it could be something special. Eventually we sat down with other friends and went through the book together. And it changed our perceptions. It changed the way we look at the Gospels. It may me realize I was more in line with those religious Pharisees than I thought all these years.
The whole thing was, need I say it? Scandalous?
Beautiful Outlaw didn’t give me a whole new theology; it made me realize I’d clouded God with my own doctrine and I need to go back to the Bible with new eyes.
Not the jaded ones that so many of us have and so many of us use to push people away from the real Jesus with our religiosity.
I used to be one of those people who prided myself in saying I wasn’t religious but I loved God. I think in my own way I still held on to a lot of religion with my high standards and judging heart. I wonder how many people I turned off…
But that’s neither here nor there. I’m diving back in, trying to get a taste of this Jesus people on the other side of the world are dying for.
I’ll let you know how it goes.