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A response to Ricky Gervais

In his latest atheist antics, Ricky Gervais has issued an “Easter Message” for all to enjoy. I find Gervais a hilarious comedian, and a rather bold atheist. He avoids the militance of many in the new-atheism camp by disguising a similar agenda in humorous quips and funny faces. Gervais has become a fairly visible voice for the atheist community which has led to the Wall Street Journal publishing a post last christmas similar to the one linked above.

In the post, Gervais explains (again in sarcasm, my love language) how he is a good christian by christian standards, citing his excellent track record following the 10 commandments as proof. What I want to posit is Gervais completely misses the point of the 10 commandments. God uses the 10 commandments to reveal what is in a person’s heart and to show how impossible it is to behave religiously well enough to earn God’s favor (Matthew 5:17-48)  We’ve used this set of evaluation questions below in our church to help understand what God is getting at with the 10 commandments:

TEN COMMANDMENTS[1]

You shall have no other Gods before Me: I have never put anything else before God in my life. I have never thought I needed something besides Him to be happy. I have always given God first place in my thinking, affections, and actions. Yes____No____

You shall have no graven images of Me: I have never had any wrong conceptions about God nor worshipped Him in a way not directly recommended by Him. I have always rejected wrong imaginations or images of God and refused to remake God according to my liking. YES_____NO_____

You shall not take My name in vain: I have never slighted the character of God by using His holy name as a swear word or in a thoughtless manner, such as by calling myself a follower of God yet not obeying Him fully. I have always held the name of God, which signifies His character, in highest respect, invoking it with thoughtfulness and reverence. YES_____NO_____

Remember the Sabbath: I have always worked hard and willingly at whatever task is set before me, seeing it as a God-given service each day, and consistently remembered to set apart one day weekly to worship God with others. YES_____NO_____

Honor your parents: I have never disobeyed nor dishonored my parents or any others in authority over me. I have always respected my parents and given them honor and willing obedience, as well as other authorities over me, including traffic laws, tax laws. YES_____NO_____ How’s that working out for you?

You shall not kill: I have never murdered anyone nor had hateful thought or taken the slightest pleasure in seeing harm done to another human. I have always thought more of others than I have of myself and practiced the highest regard for human life and justice. YES_____NO_____

You shall not commit adultery: I have never practiced any sexual impurity, either physically engaging in sex before marriage or mentally having impure thoughts about someone. I have always treated others’ sexuality with respect and dignity in both my physical actions and mental attitudes. YES_____NO_____

You shall not steal: I have never taken anything that doesn’t belong to me nor been deceitful in any attitudes (or unwilling to work for my needs). I have never stolen downloaded music or taken credit that didn’t belong to me. I have always respected the belongings, rights and creations of others and been completely truthful and fair. YES_____NO_____

You shall not lie: I have never lied nor slandered another person. I have always told the truth in every situation regarding every person I have known. YES_____NO_____

You shall not covet: I have never been greedy for something that wasn’t mine, nor jealous of the abilities, looks, or status of others. I have always shared with others and have been thankful for what they have and content with my possessions and situation. YES_____NO_____

—-
So Ricky Gervais, like all of us, is probably a pretty bad christian if this is the standard. The great news of Christianity, is that this is not the standard God judges us by. God issues his judgement of us on Christ instead of us. This is the great news of Christianity. Christ has freed us from the penalty owed us since we broke the commands of God.
Oh, and what is the greatest commandment in the Christian Faith? Love the Lord your God (Matt 22:37). How is ole Ricky doing on that one?


[1] Adapted from Will Metzger, Tell the Truth, Appendix A.IV.

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