One of the many delights of the current No 1 show on Netflix-Ricky Gervais’ After Life (which I should warn is not for faint hearts), is its tale of how to deal with bad things, how to have hope and live a good life-or how to be a good person.
If you haven’t seen the show it centres around Tony (Ricky Gervais) a writer for a local free newspaper whose beloved wife dies. Not being able to deal with his loss, he contemplates suicide but then attempts to punish the world in some way by doing and saying whatever he likes. His friends and colleagues though do their best to give him hope and encourage him to rebuild his life and become a better person.
The show’s language is nothing if not spicy and as they used to say it is not for your maiden aunt, but despite that, the programme has some profound spiritual truths in it.
At one point a character in it says:
“People get so hung up on what it takes to be a good person. They spend hours on end trying to figure out what they can do to make the world a better place or how they can have a positive impact on humanity to make them feel good about themselves. And this is it: this is the be-all and end-all of what it takes to be a decent human being-do things for other people. Go out of your way to make other people’s lives a bit easier, however you can, with whatever is within your capability, and you will be a good person by definition”.
When Ricky Gervais wrote that piece of writing he was not far off the truth and of course it should immediately chime with Christians. We know that as a follower of Jesus they have a duty to serve each other – in 1 Peter 4:10 we are told “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God”. We show our love for people by serving them.
We are also required to encourage each other, to build and mould others to allow them to overcome the obstacles they face in their lives. This is also about giving them hope and faith that “they will overcome”.
There is a marvellous line in Deuteronomy 22:4 where it says “Thou shalt not see they brother’s ass or his fall down by the way and hid thyself from them: thou shalt surely help him to lift them up again”. In other words, the way we show our love for people is by serving them, sharing their life’s burdens, and making things just that bit better for them. That is a real definition of being a good person and honouring God.