You may have heard about Chris Pratt’s acceptance speech during the MTV Awards. You may have read people debate on whether or not he actually preached the gospel. My interest here isn’t to wade into that debate, though I’ll have to put forward my own view in order to make the point I want to make. I’m more interested in the culture’s reaction—namely, that Pratt hasn’t been blacklisted yet. That, I think, reveals a few things I’d like to point out.
First, I need to quote Pratt’s point:
Nobody is perfect. People are going to tell you that you’re perfect just the way you are. You’re not! You are imperfect. You always will be. But there is a powerful force that designed you that way. And if you’re willing to accept that, then you will have grace. And grace is a gift. And like the freedom we enjoy in this country, that grace was paid for with somebody else’s blood. Do not forget it. Don’t take it for granted.
So what can we see from the way the culture has responded?
The Culture is Fine With “God”
While the internet is full of militant atheists ready to jump down the throats of everything baring any resemblance to theism, real life isn’t like that. There aren’t that many out there. In fact, it seems like most people don’t have a problem with “God.” A lot of people believe in something beyond this life—reincarnation, Cthulu, or whatever. As long as we don’t actually mean the God of the Bible—or as long as we say we mean him but don’t actually define him the way the Bible does—it’s no big deal.
Most People Don’t Think They’re Perfect
I’m sure some do. I’ve met people who think they’re unimpeachable, like no matter how much evidence you mount showing they’re wrong, everyone else is still wrong instead.
But most people aren’t like that. Most people acknowledge they’ve lied or done bad things. Or maybe they think of imperfection in some other way. As long as you haven’t called them on their sin, they’ll agree with you.
Forgiveness and Sacrifice are Still Virtues
Just watch TV or movies. A lot of them still have people sacrificing themselves for others. People find that inspiring. People find stories of forgiveness to be great. As long as we don’t have to forgive that person for that thing, it’s fine.
So my conclusion here is that the culture doesn’t have a problem with God, imperfection, or forgiveness, just as long as it doesn’t mean they have to do something in response to them. The culture’s response to Pratt has largely been a lack of one.
“So God exists? Cool. As long as he doesn’t make some claim of authority on my life, whatever.”
“I’m not perfect? You’re right. So what? Neither are you.”
“God forgives because someone else sacrificed themself? That seems odd, but okay. I can just keep living how I want then.”
But God demands repentance for our sin. Jesus’ message was “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). He came to call sinners to repent (Luke 5:32). He actually rebuked people for failing to repent (Matthew 21:32). Paul said, “Do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4). Repentance means acknowledging our sin for what it is—wicked and evil in the sight of God—and turning away from it to God. It’s not something you do only once; it’s a lifetime battle.
I guess if I had one criticism about Pratt’s speech, it’s that he didn’t say anything about the need to repent. Had he said that, there would have been more pushback. Perhaps not a blacklisting. But had he said anything about abortion or same-sex marriage, we’d have heard by now that Chris Pine has been cast as Star Lord. He’d be the natural choice since he has experience as a captain of quirky space heroes.
As a side note, I’m not going to argue that no one was or could be saved through Pratt’s speech. I mean, if Drew could be saved through the Left Behind books, why not? It’s God who saves, not a particularly-worded ten-point list. The Spirit can still move even if the vehicle is broken.
Do I have a solution? Just keep preaching the gospel. The full gospel. God will change hearts. He grants repentance.
And if you’re not a believer, you need to turn from your sin. It will lead to your death. It will lead to an agonizing and eternal separation from God, who can’t and doesn’t tolerate sin in his presence. But Jesus Christ died to pay that penalty for all who would repent. You know you don’t deserve that, but he did it anyway. So believe in him. Trust in him to pay for your sin. And you will be saved. You’ll receive the grace that Chris Pratt talked about a few days ago. And you’ll be with God forever. You can’t beat that.