How Ricky Gervais Preached the Gospel to Me

Well, dear reader, the weekend has dawned upon us and as you out there in the world-wide-web treated me by more than doubling the traffic on this site, I figured I would treat you to a nice, entertaining movie. How many of you have seen Ricky Gervais’ brilliant work The Invention of Lying…show of hands? Well that didn’t work out as well as I had hoped but I’ll just assume you have either:

a. Already seen the movie

b. Promised to read a review

c. Decided to read on in ignorance

d. Have already become bored or otherwise disinterested with this post

In any case, the movie is fantastic and I would highly recommend it for this evening, which promises to be, among other things, Saturday night.

The great thing about The Invention of Lying is that there is a ridiculous amount of unintentional gospel wrapped up in the story. From what I have read about Mr. Gervais, I would imagine that most of the parallels to the gospel were even meant to be tongue-in-cheek insults to believers. When you see the world through the gospel, however, as C.S. Lewis would put it, what would be insults turn into beautiful pictures of life in Jesus.

For instance, the God-figure for the story (Mr. Gervais is a proclaimed atheist) is referred to as “The Man in the sky”. Wow, can you get any better of a picture of who Christ is for us? Martin Luther said when we look at the man Jesus we say that is God. Karl Barth has a great little book called “The Manhood of God”. Jesus is not just the man in the sky, he is the God-man in the sky- for us!

What I really wanted to point out to you on this lovely Saturday, however, is the film’s perspective on truth. This whole week has been about truth in Religionless Christianity so why not focus on truth in this little work?

Mr. Gervais’ story takes place in a world where nobody has ever told a lie. The protagonist suddenly finds himself capable of not only twisting the truth but of being able to blatantly lie. In a world that is not on its guard for such a man, the world is at his door and the brilliant comedy he is so well known for (He did create the Office, after all) ensues.

Now, the problem with truth, as it is construed in the movie, is that it is only at surface level. Nobody can see past the appearance of things. The protagonist’s love interest constantly puts him down unintentionally because he is an odd-looking man. She has every intention of marrying his rival, a handsome, successful snake-in-the-grass (played by who other than Rob Lowe?).

But our hero is different because he becomes able to see what is really there. He is able to imagine that there is more to life than what is plain as the noses on our face, no matter how pointy or snubby they may be. He is able to imagine that reality has more to it that meets the eye- that we do not simply live and die and go into the earth.

You must ask yourself, as you watch the movie, is a longing for and an imaging of a world you cannot see a strength or a weakness?

St. Augustine said many years ago that each and every one of us has a hole in our hearts that can only be filled by God himself. We will long for the God-Man we cannot see until the day we see things as they really are. In that day will we not see our own estimation of the world as childish, pitiable, and wrong?

Whatever the case may be, Ricky Gervais tells a fine story and there is enough accidental gospel to go around.

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