While looking at the readings on the fifth Sunday of Lent as I prepared for our weekly Scripture discussion group, I started with the selection from Paul's Epistle to the Romans. Here's what I read: "Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh; on the contrary you are in the spirit, if only the Spirit of God dwells in you. Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him ... "
Here we go again, I thought. We'll be trying to decipher what spirit and flesh really mean in this context, etc., etc. So I picked up The Message, a relatively new translation of the Bible I had received, and I read the same verses from Paul: "Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God and what he is doing. And God isn't pleased at being ignored ... "
Wham! It was so clear, as if Paul himself had rung the doorbell, come in, pinned me against the wall and said, "Time to get your act together, my brother in Christ." And he wasn't smiling. Our group listened to both versions of Romans at our meeting a few days later, and there was unanimous agreement that The Message carried Paul's message in a sensible, powerful, personal new way."