Meditation on Romans, Chapter 5


I think I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again.  I find things – meanings, light – in Eugene Peterson’s translation of the Bible (The Message) that I don’t find or get in the more traditional translations.  I’m not saying get rid of the old translations.  I love the meter and rhythms of the King James.  Has anyone ever improved on “The Lord is my shepherd?”  or “they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint?”



But look at the fifth chapter of Romans, for example.  Here is Peterson, starting at verse 1:

By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us – set us right with him, make us fit for him – we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus.  And that’s not all: We throw our doors open to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown his door open to us.  We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand – out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.

At the risk of sounding juvenile or cliché, all I can say to this is “wow!”  How immediate and existential he makes it all sound.  That faith in Christ is not just something that changes our metaphysical status.  It’s not an abstraction.  The change is not simply a changing of the books in heaven.  It’s right now.  And it’s . . . well, it’s overwhelming.  Again, Peterson, Romans 5:  10-11:

In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged.  Quite the contrary – we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit.

Deep and Wide

Doesn’t this sound immediate and dramatic?  Doesn’t it sound fulfilling?   Almost operatic!  Big life!  A few verses down the page and Peterson translates:

. . . just think of how our lives will expand and deepen by means of his resurrection life!

Hoo-boy.  Isn’t this what we really want?  The expansion and deepening of life?  I know that there are more chapters in this epistle and language there that may seem to put something of a damper on all of this enthusiasm.  You know – the evil that I would not, that I do and the good that I would . . . that sort of thing.
But.  But.  But.  Is it still not a fair question to ask ourselves?  That is – is my life deepening and expanding?  Wow.  Big question.  No doubt, the bible teaches us that some – maybe even most – of this deepening and expanding goes on in ways that we are not immediately conscious of while it is happening.  But still.  How are our lives being deepened and expanded?  To meditate on this is to maybe come to some appreciation about aspects of our lives that we have maybe ignored or taken for granted.  On the other hand, such a meditation may call us to assess our lives.  If we are not deepening and expanding, what is wrong?  What are we stuck on?  What idols are we giving our precious energies and attentions to?

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