The drip feed imagery of Matthew 4:4 in the Message is really helpful in understanding what Jesus was meaning about how to read the bible and build a healthy devotional life:
“It takes more than bread to stay alive. It takes a steady stream of words from God’s mouth.”
I was in hospital this week for an ankle operation and within 10 seconds of the Anesthetist putting a intro-venous line into my hand and starting the flow of drugs, I was gone – totally asleep and oblivious to pain and trauma allowing the Surgeon to do his work.
That’s how powerful this kind of reading of the bible can be when it becomes more about ‘just getting the word in you’ rather than about always studying for exposition or exegesis. These are vital of course, (and I wouldn’t use Peterson’s paraphrased Message version for everything), but sometimes just getting the living theatre of the word in you is what is required rather an academic or studious approach.
The beautiful story of God’s relating with humanity throughout history can sometimes be best absorbed by casual reading and reflection. And that’s what The Daily Message provides – it gets the potent, daily drip-feed of biblical discourse, imagery, reality, poetry, history and prophecy flowing in your system like a cocktail of life-improving anaesthesias, pointing your inward life to constantly reset on the delectable morsel that you ate earlier in the day. It brings conversations between historic stalwarts to life, or the patriarchs, in a way that perhaps the more accurate renderings don’t because of semantic stiffness. You find yourself feeling and responding to the rhythmical movements of God with people more because it has been presented in a different tone and with earthy, contemporary language.
The Daily Message is also worth using because of the immensely stimulating and provoking questions at the end of each day. Personally, I’m fed up of curt Christian devotional material that patronises the reader by asking them to waste their time thinking about questions that have often been thought up in less than 3 seconds. Instead, these questions are deep and profoundly stimulating – they add to the nourishing refreshment by acting as an hors d’oeuvre for the next day’s reading that you’re anticipating with intrigue and excitement.
If you’re looking for a change of devotional reading, this is awesome!