Nice Jesus

I used to work for my father in our hardware store, and one day I made a service call to a farm home where the guy had a cougar for a pet.  The cat was staked outside on a large (gulp) link chain.  The owner must have said something about it being safe to pet the kitty, and as I've often done, I probably exercised poor judgment and went ahead and placed my hand on top of the cat's head.  I gave him a little rub, and his mouth did one of those opening and waving movements like Leo, the MGM Lion.  His head was a smooth melon, with tissue drawn taut and bulging up like two mounds lying alongside a furrow in a field.  He was all muscle and sinew and coil.  I returned my hand and my five digits to my side, and stepped back. 

It turns out the Humane Society thinks it's a bonehead move to keep a big cat.  A foolish wager that the animal can be comprehensively domesticated.  There's always that...  something...  that divides the wild from the tame.  And we dabble in gene-bending at our peril.

For years I've been searching for the domesticated Jesus.  My search continues.  You know, Jesus the nice guy.  A gentle smile, a tender touch, a sweet word, buying me a latte on his Starbucks app.  Always supportive and affirming, endorsing my position.  My buddy.  My pal.  My babe in a manger.  My friend upstairs.  That warm, inclusive, group-hug Jesus.  I'm still trying to locate him.  It’s been difficult.  Perhaps because he’s not there.  And yet, what's amazing is that I've never really wanted to find him.  Not like that.  Not like we've often imagined and assumed him to be.  The pious, mild-mannered, milquetoast Jesus.  What I encounter instead is a white-hot refiner’s fire.  A man whom the demons recognize when men do not.  A light that exposes all, and especially me.  And yet it’s an odd burn.  Strangely life-giving.  

I’ve also wondered what it would be like to have Jesus look at me.  And speak my name.  And God forbid that he do that now.  Why is that such a wonderful and terrifying prospect?  Just when we think we've collared him he makes some big cat move and eludes us, dealing in blood and water and redemption.  Hurting to heal.  Bad news before the good.  Even dying to give life.  Now I really have containment issues.

You’ve figured him out?              You hope.