I really like Chris Pratt. He seems like a fun, funny, down-to-earth guy who, despite being one of this moment’s great action heroes, doesn’t take himself too seriously. Oh, and he’s Christian. And he pulls no punches when it comes to his faith.
Take his recent acceptance speech at the Teen Choice Awards.
“I love God, that’s my thing!” He tells a screaming audience. “I love him! And you should, too!”
Pratt says that he thanks God every time he’s in front of a large audience,. Every award he gets, every honor he achieves, he seems to give honor to the Man Upstairs. “God is real,” he said at the 2018 MTV Movie & TV Awards. “God loves you. God wants the best for you. Believe that. I do.”
One of the most likable, most influential actors on the scene today, talking about God? Unreal. Fantastic. And oh-so encouraging.
But here’s the thing: As much as I like Pratt, and as much as I like what I’m hearing from him, I know—and I think that he does, too—that the line between hero and villain, between role model and doofus, is the breadth of one big mistake. And we all make mistakes.
I dig superheroes in the movies. But in real life, we have no Superman, no Captain America, no one on whom we can count to make the right decision every single time, no matter the circumstance. When we look to the world for our role models, our heroes, they’re bound to disappoint in some way. Why? Because we’re broken people, that’s why. We fall. We fail.
We’ve seen it even in the world of Christianity. Sometimes I think especially so. Our spiritual leaders—the folks we count on to lead us along a righteous path and point the way home—sometimes seem to fall like leaves in autumn. I’ve seen it all my life. We all have. People who we might’ve thought could do no wrong sometimes … do wrong.
Back in the day, basketball star (and current basketball pundit) Charles Barkley got into some trouble for telling the world, in a Nike commercial, “I am not a role model.”
As abrasive as the spot might’ve been for many, Barkley says something pretty true: “Just because I dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your kids.”
Moms and dads should be the best role models their kids could have … and yet we moms and dads know that we’re not perfect, either. We fail our kids all too often, and most of us are achingly aware of those failures.
I think there’s a danger in looking to someone, anyone, and saying, “I want to be just like that.” Pratt may embrace his position as role model, and I think in some respects he’d be a fine one … but only up to a point. Today, in this broken world, every hero comes with an asterisk.
Again, I don’t think this is something that Pratt would be offended by. He shouldn’t be.
One of Pratt’s most popular on-screen characters is Peter Quill, leader of The Guardians of the Galaxy. Quill’s no pure-of-heart role model himself. He can be selfish, arrogant and petty. He steals. He sleeps around (or, at least, used to). Few parents would point to Quill and say to their children, “Be like him in every respect.”
But in moments—the most critical moments—he acts heroically, selflessly and sacrificially.
He is, in truth, a little like us. We’re not heroes, either. Not all the time, anyway. But we carry the potential to act heroically every day. Every minute.
Sure, let’s celebrate Pratt and his outspoken love for God. Let’s appreciate that, it would seem, he wants to set an example for the youngsters he knows look up to him.
But even as we do so, let’s remember that no one, Chris Pratt included, is perfect. We should have just one real role model in our lives—the one who literally saved us all. And if some of us mirror Him on occasion, all the better.