An American Treasure

We have come to the portion of Better Together where we are taking about giving and generosity. On Sunday, Pastor Mike lifted up Jesus’ parable of the rich fool in Luke 12:13-21. Jesus offers the wisdom that a person is a fool to store up early wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.  I loved Pastor Mike’s sermon title, “How to Get Rich.” It gave you an impression of something in our culture’s understanding of wealth, but then Jesus flips this idea on its head. Getting rich is not about money at all but rather a developing an enriching relationship with God.

I am not usually impressed by sermon titles, but this one was incredible. Sometimes I have the hardest time even coming up with a sermon title. If I had preached a message from Luke 12:13-21, I probably would have generated something that related to Mr. Laurence Tureaud, otherwise known as Mr. T. I grew up loving the A-Team and the Rocky movies, so I loved B.A. Baracus and disliked Clubber Lang. If you have no idea what I talking about, I am sorry! One of Mr. T most famous expressions was “ I pity the fool . . .” That would have probably been my best attempt at a sermon title from this passage of Scripture.

In the mid-1980’s, Mr. T was one of the biggest celebrities in our culture. However, he came from very humble beginnings and endured many failures along the way. I think he might even be an American treasure! One of 12 children, Laurence Tureaud was born in Chicago in 1952 and was an amazing athlete at Dunbar Vocational High School. He played football and wrestled and performed well in both sports. As an amateur wrestler, he was the citywide champion two years in a row and also earned a football scholarship to Prairie View A&M University, but he was expelled after just one year. After a stint in the military, Mr. T tried out for the Green Bay Packers but failed to make the team. He found work as a bouncer, which is when he began wearing his signature gold chains, and he turned that into a long career as a bodyguard.

In nearly ten years as a bodyguard, Mr. T worked for numerous big-name boxers, including Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, and Leon Spinks. In his late 20s, he began entering toughman contests, including two different competitions that aired on NBC. It was here that he was noticed by Sylvester Stallone, who cast him in Rocky III, making him a household name. 

The popularity of Mr. T fizzled as the years went on. He took time away from acting in the mid-90s to battle cancer but remained upbeat throughout the ordeal, even making jokes about his T-cell count, referencing his own nickname. In 2017, Mr. T was back in the mainstream appearing on Dancing With the Stars. He said that he would shave off his signature mohawk if he and his partner won but was eliminated from the show very early on.

These days, Mr. T can be found handing out inspirational messages on Twitter at @Mr.T. He is actually a Christian and his Twitter page is full of many passages of Scripture. I wonder if Mr. T figured out that being rich was really about his relationship with God. I pity the foolish person who is consumed by greed rather than living a life as an offering to God.

In His Grip,
Mike Toluba

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