Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Jesus' teaching on 'play acting' and prayer.

The World Is Not a Stage
"Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don't make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won't be applauding. "When you do something for someone else, don't call attention to yourself. You've seen them in action, I'm sure—'playactors' I call them— treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that's all they get. When you help someone out, don't think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out.
Pray with Simplicity
"And when you come before God, don't turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat?
"Here's what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won't be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.

"The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They're full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don't fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this:

Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right;
Do what's best— as above, so below.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
You're in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You're ablaze in beauty!
Yes. Yes. Yes.

"In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can't get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God's part.

"When you practice some appetite-denying discipline to better concentrate on God, don't make a production out of it. It might turn you into a small-time celebrity but it won't make you a saint. If you 'go into training' inwardly, act normal outwardly. Shampoo and comb your hair, brush your teeth, wash your face. God doesn't require attention-getting devices. He won't overlook what you are doing; he'll reward you well.

1 comment:

Ρωμανός ~ Romanós said...

Sorry, brother, but I had to laugh a little when reading The Message paraphrase of the Lord's Prayer. Certainly not going to make its way into any formal liturgies too soon, but nonetheless it captures a lively intention.

Amazing what a difference it makes to use a version in a very different dialect than the one we're accustomed to.

Here's the Lord's Prayer in the Gullah dialect of coastal Georgia and South Carolina...

We Fada wa dey een heaben,
leh ebrybody hona ya name.
We pray dat soon ya gwine
rule oba de wol.
Wasoneba ting ya wahn,
leh um be so een dis wol
same like dey een heaben.
Gii we de food wa we need
dis day yah an ebry day.
Fagib we fa we sin,
same like we da fagib
dem people wa do bad ta we.
Leh we dohn hab haad test
wen Satan try we.
Keep we fom ebil.

(The doxology is missing in this text.)

Gullah is a creole used by black people who have inhabited the coastal islands from slavery times till now. Their dialect is considered an actual language, but because the spelling conforms to standard English whenever possible, I'd like to say its an American English dialect. Also, once you hear a bit of it, you begin to understand it.

Just like I am starting a Greek New Testament blog (which will soon have real recordings, not just my first attempt at a recording, which is all that's there now), I've been thinking about recording selected passages of the Gullah New Testament in another new blog, to be called, "De good nyews bout Jedus Christ wa Roman blogg". Let's see if I follow thru with this idea.

Thanks for posting the Word of God, which is always better than anything we could ever blog!