Saturday, 17 April 2010

Hebrews 12 (The Message)

Discipline in a Long-Distance Race
Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!
In this all-out match against sin, others have suffered far worse than you, to say nothing of what Jesus went through—all that bloodshed! So don't feel sorry for yourselves. Or have you forgotten how good parents treat children, and that God regards you as his children?

My dear child, don't shrug off God's discipline,
but don't be crushed by it either.
It's the child he loves that he disciplines;
the child he embraces, he also corrects.

God is educating you; that's why you must never drop out. He's treating you as dear children. This trouble you're in isn't punishment; it's training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God's training so we can truly live? While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God's holy best. At the time, discipline isn't much fun. It always feels like it's going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it's the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God.

So don't sit around on your hands! No more dragging your feet! Clear the path for long-distance runners so no one will trip and fall, so no one will step in a hole and sprain an ankle. Help each other out. And run for it!

Work at getting along with each other and with God. Otherwise you'll never get so much as a glimpse of God. Make sure no one gets left out of God's generosity. Keep a sharp eye out for weeds of bitter discontent. A thistle or two gone to seed can ruin a whole garden in no time. Watch out for the Esau syndrome: trading away God's lifelong gift in order to satisfy a short-term appetite. You well know how Esau later regretted that impulsive act and wanted God's blessing—but by then it was too late, tears or no tears.


Ρωμανός ~ Romanós said...

"Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it."

Our best blog posts are always simply the Word of God.

You picked your text exceptionally well.

I have not bought or used a copy of The Message translation, but from the bits I have read here and there, at your blog and at others, I am now tempted to buy one... one with an industrial, metal cover.

I've used modern translations that are deemed paraphrases by those who insist on strictly literal translations, but I have always gotten a lot out of them: Good News for Modern Man was the first, then the original The Living Bible, and then finally the original (1966) Jerusalem Bible, which I had thought was a literal translation, but once I began reading the Old Testament in the original Hebrew, I discovered that it too is very much a paraphrase, at least in Psalms, with which I am most familiar. But then, the Psalms are poetry, and surely one must use paraphrase to capture the spirit of the text when translating poetry.

The Greek Church has never had a problem with using any particular English (or other vernacular)translation, because for us, the original language texts are the only ones that are authoritative.

Altho I haven't noticed too much difference between the Greek Old Testament (which the Orthodox use as authoritative) and the original Hebrew, I am finding that I in fact prefer the Hebrew text where it exists (a few of the OT books are available only in Greek, what are called Apocrypha by some).

These musings of mine aren't directly related to your posting of the text from Hebrews, but I just wanted to check in with you, brother, for you are very precious to me, and I look forward to the day when I can come to Ireland and see you face to face.

Hebrews is one of my favorite NT books, if I can say such a thing. My other favorite Pauline epistle is 2 Corinthians, and my favorite NT writer is John the Evangelist who is also called John the Revelator from his writing of the last book of the NT.

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!

Andrew Kenny said...

Thanks for your comments Romanos.My standard version of the Bible would be the N.I.V. (known as the Northern Ireland Version here!)or the R.S.V., but like many Christians I have many other versions.
In Ulster the (ill-)famed fundamentalist preacher Ian Paisley wrote several booklets against versions of the Bible that were not the A.V. or King James version. He titled the booklets: ‘The Revised Standard Perversion’ for the R.S.V., ‘The Living libel’ against the Living Bible and the ‘False News for Modern Man’ for the Good News for Modern Man etc,etc.

As a young man I had many debates with his followers. Once I had gone to hear him preach and being more of a controversialist in those days, I brought along my New American Standard Bible-looking for a bit of a debate -I was not disappointed.
One of his followers then went into a tirade on how bad it was and on seeing the preacher coming out of the church asked me if I wanted Ian Paisley to give his opinion on it.Of course I did want to personally meet such a controversial figure I agreed. When I was introduced he took the Bible in his hands, looked at it and acknowledged there was nothing he could say against it.He went on to say that it was translated by godly men. He then handed it back to me. The member of his congregation then apologised to me, revealing that sometimes the Paisleyites were 'more Paisley' than Paisley himself!

I have always said that if we lived by what even the Good News for Modern Man said we would be the best Christian in the world. The problem is more often not with the translation or paraphrase, but with our obedience to what God wants us to do!.

Likewise I love the gospel of John and 2 Corinthians (what compassion he shows to his flock!). I also love the Pastorals which as a young man I always tried to take personally.

I have also been enjoying the posts on your blog especially when there are little anecdotes from your past. We all love Paul when giving instructions he also reveals a little of his struggles and desires-makes him seem more human!