Sure, I want to be seen as a Christian, but Jesus didn't make it easy. In fact, He raised the bar way too high. I'm all for loving my neighbor, as long as they are good, churchgoing folk, but this whole love-and-forgiveness-for-everyone thing is crazy. Luckily there are a lot of Christian leaders and organizations that can steer you around this nonsense.
One great way is to pretend Jesus didn't even raise the bar. In John MacArthur's Study Bible, MacArthur has a footnote for Matthew 5 that explains that Jesus was really making no changes at all. Sure, the old rule was "Do not murder"; the new rule is "Don't even be angry." The old rule was "Do not commit adultery"; the new rule is "Don't even think it." The old rule was "An eye for an eye"; the new rule is "Turn the other cheek." The old rule was "Love your neighbor"; the new rule is "Also love your enemy."
However, now that I know that Jesus didn't really understand what He was saying, or simply chose his words poorly, it's a lot easier to apply. I much prefer "An eye for an eye." Seriously, who doesn't?
And what exactly did Jesus mean when He told us not to judge? What are we to make of all the places in the Bible that explain that judgment is reserved for God only? Luckily the members of the Westboro Baptist Church, as well as many other churches, will point you to the Book of John: "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment" (John 7:24, KJB). If you read the entire story, you'll see that this was Jesus lecturing the Jews, who were complaining about Him healing a man on the Sabbath. He was letting them know how wrong it was for them to judge Him at all. But if you ignore what was going on and focus only on that one line, you can make it read as if it's OK to judge if you are one of the righteous. And I'm sure we all know if we are, so we and God can judge away.
Another clever trick is to take obvious metaphors and pretend they're not metaphors. Take the "salt" and "light" messages delivered during the Sermon on the Mount: "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot" (Matthew 5:13, NIV). Sure, a lot of Biblical scholars and preachers will have you believe that this means that Christians are the pure of the earth, but if you lose your faith, how can you witness to others when you are the same as them? That's a lot of pressure. But what if we pretend this isn't a metaphor? John MacArthur wrote:
Salt stings. Not only is it white and adds flavor, it has a medicinal or healing property when put into a wound. So some say that the Lord is saying, "Believers are not to be honey to soothe the sinful world, you are to be salt in the world, so whenever you see a place where there is a problem, you should just throw yourselves in and make it sting."
That's a lot better. As a Caucasian, I especially like the emphasis on being white. Just assume that this was actually referring to sodium-packed granules, and you can make it mean whatever you want it to mean. I guess that means that in the next verse, where Jesus says you are the light of the world, he's simply suggesting that you use incandescent bulbs.
Then there's the whole good-deeds-and-works thing, which can absolutely ruin a weekend. Fear not. Many will quickly point you to the teachings of Paul in Ephesians 2:8 and Romans 3:28, where he says salvation is by faith alone. Yes, Jesus spent a lot of time helping the poor, the crippled, the lame, the sick, and the needy. Yes, He told the rich man to give all his money to the poor, and that he must do this to enter Heaven. Yes, the Apostle James, the brother of Jesus, said many times that faith does not exist without works. Yes, the Apostle John was given a vision of Judgment Day and tells us we are judged by those works. But ignore all of that scripture and focus on the couple of places where Paul said you don't have to lift a finger for anyone, and you can sit back in your La-Z-Boy with a beer and a bag of chips and not have to spend one iota of time worrying about the poor, homeless vagabonds. I mean, really, why would a Christian even want to help others?
But the best way to ignore all the teachings of Jesus is to do what John MacArthur, the Westboro Baptist Church, and many other organizations do: cling to Paul's teaching about the Elect, or those pre-chosen to inherit eternal life. If you subscribe to the belief that you were chosen by God before the universe was even created, well, heck, you'll be too busy patting yourself on the back to worry about things Jesus asked you to do.
There is one little confusing thing, however. The Westboro Baptist Church thinks they are the chosen ones. The followers of MacArthur think they are. All Presbyterians know it's them. In fact, any organization that holds to this theory believes it to be them and them alone. But that's not important. The important thing is that you were picked out because you're so totally awesome and nothing you do or don't do will take away your get-out-of-hell-free card.
It does make you wonder why Jesus had to come to Earth at all if nothing could change things. And why did He try to save so many people? And why did He teach his disciples how to spread the Word and save people? Well, that's just way overthinking things. The important thing to know is you're in like Flynn.
These are just a few ways out of thousands to get around those bothersome instructions Jesus provided for us. I'm sure you can think of even more creative ways. I know the Bible says that the only way to the Father is "through" the Son, but what does "through" really mean? We talk about the wind blowing through the trees, but we know it doesn't actually go through the wood; it goes around the trees. That's all you have to do: find a way around Jesus.
Good luck with eternity. And in case it wasn't extremely obvious, this entire post was sarcasm.