Monday, August 10, 2009

Prayer – In one billion, three hundred forty nine million, six hundred seventy eight thousand, four hundred and eighty-twelve lessons.

Lesson 5

Henry Kissinger once said “Ninety percent of the politicians give the other ten percent a bad reputation.”

I saw a movie called “Funny People.” I thought it should have been called “Depressed people who are ruining their own lives by making one self-absorbed decision after another with no regard for the impact of their decisions on others or the long-term impact of anything. They drink, abuse drugs, exploit others sexually and tell hundreds of offensive and disgustingly crass stories they consider “jokes” as pitiful and fruitless attempts to hide their emptiness and despair.” It might have trouble fitting on the poster, but I believe in truth in advertising.

The movie had five stars from some critic. The only good thing I can say about the movie is that we asked for extra salt on the popcorn and got a large so there were free refills. This gave us an excuse to leave the theater often. Other than that, it was offensive and depressing.

But it had a really good reputation. Reputation is a funny thing. Your reputation is not really who you are, it’s who people THINK you are. And who people THINK you are controls how they act around you and respond to you.

Socrates, Captain Kangaroo and nearly everyone in between has said something to the effect that you should act in a way that will create the reputation you wish to have. So, the McDonalds guy I was so impressed with really wasn’t as brilliant as I thought.

If you want a good reputation, the only course of action that makes sense is to treat others really well. Do what’s in their best interest. So, I’m very safe when I ask God to give me whatever will do the most for his reputation (to “hallow” his name). He even says that he does things in order to protect and enhance his own reputation (See Isaiah 48: 9 and 11 for good examples). It’s all neat and clean on paper. The problem is - I am not neat and clean.

I’m often petty and self-centered. So as soon as I figure out that God will want to do things that will improve his reputation, I start calculating how to use that to my advantage. I think it’s smarmy, but on the other hand, Moses did it too (See Numbers 13:12-14).

I may be going out on a big limb here, but I suspect that praying for his name to be “hallowed” as a manipulative, sneaky way to get whatever I want is somehow missing the point. In fact, it’s the same, self-absorbed thought process that made all the “funny people” so depressing. It’s just using God the way the characters were using sex, drugs, money, fame, “humor,” and each other. I suppose that using Him for my selfish needs is not consistent with desiring that his name be hallowed. I wonder if 90% of my prayers give the other 10 percent a bad reputation?

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