Celebrity atheist, Ricky Gervais, is in trouble again (which will, no doubt, please both him and his agent). He responded to a tweet sent out by MTV News that reads, "Beyonce, Rihanna & Katy Perry send prayers to #Oklahoma #PrayForOklahoma," with the quip, "I feel like an idiot now ... I only sent money."
Oh, I wish I had said that. As a Christian, I wish I had said that. Even though I think Gervais is an arrogant, smug, self-promoting elitist who makes his money from telling jokes based on some people not being as intelligent as other people, I still wish I had said that. I wish that I had said it because it is the best exposition of one of the central teachings of Jesus Christ that I have ever read or heard.
“And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you." (Matthew 6: 5-6)
Using prayer to score points for yourself, to big yourself up as being super caring, to sell more records and get more Twitter followers is not only completely contrary to the commandments of Jesus, it is also so sick-makingly crass that it invites ridicule from the clever-clogs, pisstakers of the New Atheism. So, don't do it! If you want to say prayers for the people of Oklahoma then do so "in secret."
Actually, although Gervais is quite right in condemning the hypocrisy of broadcasting personal prayers to the world he has, of course, condemned himself to receiving his reward on earth at the same time. In fact, him saying it before me has saved me from a telling off from the Son of God. You see, his claim that he has sent money to help the victims of the storm is not on either.
"So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward." (Matthew 6: 2)
Dammit, Janet. Some days you just can't win.
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