Editor’s Preface: Those involved in this “translation” process are as wrapped up in its implications as anyone else. Which is precisely why it was so troublingly easy to put together.
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. But until we get to heaven, being poor in spirit is just a great way to get taken advantage of.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. God will comfort them, so don’t worry about them.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Just tell them that the next life will be better.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. If you have time for that sort of thing.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. Unless somebody is really bad, and doesn’t deserve mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. But you can never be truly pure in heart in this world, so just remember about grace and then do whatever needs to be done.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. And if you kill enough bad guys, then you can make peace.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. But everything I’m talking about here is spiritual so there’s no reason that you should actually ever be persecuted. So just do the right thing when you think it will be effective.
“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. But again, that’s really going to be a bad deal, so don’t feel like you have keep imitating me if it’s going to get you in trouble.…
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. Unless they’re seriously evil and going to harm you or your family. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Unless you think you might get taken advantage of. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you. Unless people are addicts or are poor because they’ve made bad decisions—how will they ever learn if you just help them when they don’t deserve it?
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. But if they hate you for no good reason and threaten to really hurt you, then do what’s necessary to protect yourself. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. But you really can’t be perfect, and trying might be like works-righteousness, so at the end of the day just be practical.…
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. But you do need to be fiscally responsible and have a solid savings account in place before you do anything like this. And keep some put away for a rainy day or a medical emergency….
“No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. And obviously I mean this spiritually—you can have all the material possessions that you want, just don’t let them get in the way of your relationship with God. And it will be really clear if and when you begin worshipping comfort and wealth instead of God….
“In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets. But again, if this is going to be super inconvenient—and now that I think about it I could see how it might become ineffective—do what you need to do and stand up for yourself. Like I said, do whatever seems practical….
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?’ Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.’ But as long as you’re going to church and being a good person, you’ll be in good shape….
Now when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes. And nobody was the least bit upset by what Jesus said or did, and they all thought him very sensible.
“…between the Christianity of this land, and the Christianity of Christ, I recognize the widest possible difference–so wide, that to receive the one as good, pure, and holy, is of necessity to reject the other as bad, corrupt, and wicked. To be the friend of the one, is of necessity to be the enemy of the other.
– Frederick Douglass