There’s a reason why I don’t read the Message Bible. It’s a popular bible, but it’s not a translation. It’s a form of commentary. Meaning, it’s someone’s thoughts on the what the word of God says.
Now, commentaries can be a good thing. They can help us see things we may not have otherwise seen. They can help us understand things that we may not have known we needed to understand. They can expand and open up scripture to us. But commentaries can also be misleading, misdirecting, and avoid parts of the passage or even purposely skip over the main point of a passage to explain certain other things.
Which means, I wouldn’t read the Message Bible as a Bible but as a commentary. Though the author of the Message aimed to make the Bible more “relevant” for it’s readers, it did something entirely different: It made the Bible more distant for it’s readers.
How so? Easy. By changing the words and language of the Bible, this action, this method, conveys that the Bible is hard to understand and cannot be understood by the average person. This is simply false. I am your average reader, and I know plenty who are your average person who works on farms, and they understand the Bible just fine. It seems those who don’t understand the Bible are the ones who have tons of false beliefs to begin with and just can’t make sense of some of the things the Bible teaches because they don’t want to understand.
So, if and when I read the Message, I use it just to see his thoughts. Honestly though, I barely use it because I prefer Godly men who have wrestled with God and the meaning of passages to see what insight they have found in their wrestling with the king of the universe.
I don’t recommend reading the Message as though these are the words of God. I prefer to use a few translations, like NASB, ESV, RSV, and Young’s.