Ricky Gervais has written a sermon, of sorts, entitled “Why I Am A Good Christian.” The humor, if it can be called that, in the title is that Mr. Gervais is an admitted atheist. I don’t often feel the need to respond quite this specifically, it would be remiss of me to NOT admit that this post came about specifically because I read his article. I will hit the highlights and respond, and, in doing so, I hope to shed some light on all of us.
In the first paragraph, Mr. Gervais makes a telling statement:
I am of course not a good Christian in the sense that I believe that Jesus was half man, half God, but I do believe I am a good Christian compared to a lot of Christians.
I’ll deal with the comparison issue in a moment. The more important issue is that in this opening statement, Mr. Gervais demonstrates a remarkable lack of understanding of a fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith: Jesus was not half anything. Jesus was both FULLY God and FULLY man. This is called the Hypostatic Union. (John 1:1&14, Collosians 2:9, Hebrews 1:3).
Mr. Gervais goes on to say that:
It’s not that I don’t believe that the teachings of Jesus wouldn’t make this a better world if they were followed. It’s just that they are rarely followed.
I wonder what teachings Mr. Gervais thinks should be followed…
- The teaching that looking at a another person lustfully is the same thing as having sex with them – Matthew 5:28-30
- The teaching that it is difficult for a rich person to go to Heaven – Mark 10:25
- The teaching that the ONLY way to come to God is through (Jesus) – John 14:6
- The teaching that to see him (Jesus) is the same thing as seeing the Father (God) – John 14:9
- The teaching that he (Jesus) came to bring a fire (judgment) and division on the earth – Luke 12:49-53
- The teaching that your love for your family should look like hate in comparison to your love for Jesus and that salvation comes from taking up your cross daily – Luke 14:26
Which one is OK with Mr. Gervais, I wonder?
Later in the article, Mr. Gervais decides to demonstrate his “better than most” Christianity by ticking a point system through the Ten Commandments. He says:
‘You shall have no other gods before Me.’
I definitely do not. Excellent. I get one point.
Do you really? Now, I get his humor here. He’s an atheist. He doesn’t believe in ANY God. But there is a gulf of difference between saying you do or do not believe, believing and the truth. “You shall have no other Gods…” means, quite simply, that if ANYTHING is more important to you than God (your career, your family, money, fame, success, your favorite sports team… ANYTHING) then you have set up an idol (Oops. Looks like you broke number two as well.) Additionally, I’d like to say that, while I am HARDLY innocent of this (or of what I am about to say), it’s true that one of the hardest lessons I ever had to learn was that worry was the WORST kind of (forgivable) sin. The moment we worry, anout anything at all, then that thing has become God. So, tick two points AGAINST all of us.
‘You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.’
I never do.
Now, he goes on after this, and I have to say that he is spot on with his understanding of this one (if not his execution). [Forgive my mish-mashing of his statements and mine in the next few lines…] Few people understand that God’s name is not “God.” This commandment has everything to do with attributing credit to, swearing by God’s (actual) name with intent to not honor the oath, or “honoring” God for something in a hollow manner. RG points out that:
The commandment could equally be, You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in “vanity” e.g. when your enemy is hurt or defeated saying, “that’s God’s wrath,” or when you win an award saying, “thank God.” This is using his name in vanity. It’s suggesting that you KNOW that God helped you win that award because you deserved it more, or because he was on your side. It’s always tickled me that God would have a favourite actor at The Golden Globes.
He’s actually completely correct here. His understanding of the fourth commandment “Remember the Sabbath Day and Keep It Holy” while effective and correct on a practical level, demonstrate a lack of understanding of the full scope of the commandment. The Sabbath was a multi-leveled point of contact for this new nation of people. Also, we’re told in the New Testament that Jesus is our Sabbath rest. So, like so many things in the Old Testament, the keeping of the Sabbath was a foreshadow of Jesus and the hope we can have in Him.
With regards to the fifth commandment, RG states:
‘Honour your father and your mother.’
I think I get a point if anyone does with this one.
The problem with this is that, as much as RG (or anyone) loves his or her parents, being disobedient – even once – or talking back (giving attitude of any kind), speaking disrespectfully to or even about your parents means you lose your point on this one.
So, in a nutshell, if you place more importance on anything than you do to God, worry about anything, thank God for something without truly meaning it or even mocking the idea of Him, consider the Sabbath Day just a “day off” without recognizing that it is a precursor of Jesus and the redemption rest that can only be offered in Him and talk back, even once, to your parents. You’ve broken all of the first five commandments.
Sorry, RG. No points for you… or any of us. How wonderful it is to know that we don’t win God’s favor or forgiveness based on a points system.