When the Bible tells us that when Jesus spoke, “people heard him gladly” and “the large crowd listened to him with delight,” various translations of Mark 12:37, I often wonder what that meant. This passage and others contrasts Jesus way of speaking with that of the religious leaders of the day.
Sadly, there are few Christian leaders or preachers today who people “listen to with delight.”
And then there is Chris Pratt. His job description as super star actor (Guardians of the Galaxy, Jurassic Park, Parks and Recreation) doesn't automatically include preacher to the people—but last night at the MTV Awards he was just that.
He framed his words as his 9 Rules for Living. I’ll share them below, but I highly recommend you listen to them online, not only for the words, but more importantly for the audience reaction.
Here is what he said:
"I'm going to cut to the chase and I am going to speak to you, the next generation," Pratt said. "I accept the responsibility as your elder. So, listen up."
"Breathe. If you don't, you will suffocate."
"You have a soul. Be careful with it."
"Don't be a turd. If you are strong, be a protector. If you are smart, be a humble influencer. Strength and intelligence can be weapons, so do not wield them against the weak. That makes you a bully. Be bigger than that."
"When giving a dog medicine, put the medicine in a little piece of hamburger and they won't even know they're eating medicine."
"It doesn't matter what it is. Earn it. A good deed. Reach out to someone in pain. Be of service. It feels good and it's good for your soul."
"God is real. God loves you, God wants the best for you. Believe that, I do."
"If you have to poop at a party….(sorry I’m leaving this one off—it’s online, but this is my “G” rated blog).
"Learn to pray. It's easy, and it is so good for your soul."
"Nobody is perfect. People will tell you that you are perfect just the way that you are, you are not! You are imperfect. You always will be, but there is a powerful force that designed you that way, and if you are willing to accept that, you will have grace. And grace is a gift. Like the freedom that we enjoy in this country, that grace was paid for with somebody else's blood. Do not forget that. Don't take that for granted."
Again, listen to his speech, not only for his words, but for the audience reaction. They are clapping and cheering through it. Obviously they heard him with delight. It’s worth analyzing why. The truth statements (rules 2,5, 6 and 9 especially) are incredible distillations of biblical reality put into contemporary language—we are not perfect and we need grace, grace purchased with somebody else’s blood. When was the last time you heard a congregation clap at the mention of grace?
He does a masterful mix of humor and truth—very hard for most of us to manage, so I don’t recommend trying, but you can take his words and use them as discussion starters, especially with the younger people in your life: What did they think of it? What is grace? Why is it important to know you aren’t perfect?
#9 is an extraordinary contemporary translation of “for all have sinned” “by grace you are saved.” Discuss his challenge that we not take that for granted.
And for you and your church, can you lighten up a little bit while still being true to who you are and the respect due the gospel? How can we translate Biblical terms into the language of today so people will hear eternal truth? How can we bring joy back into sharing our faith?
I don’t know the answer to these questions, but they are challenges worth discussing. And while doing that pray for the many who heard Chris Pratt’s message that they hunger to find out more about the God who loves them and paid for them with Jesus’s blood.
Pray you will learn to share the words of eternal life in way your audience will hear you gladly.