Lions don’t make good pets

By Joel A. Hess

Lions don’t make good pets. Every year we read a story about some poor fool who wanted to have a wild animal as a pet. A couple of years ago, a woman’s monkey mauled her friend. I remember trying to have a raccoon as a pet. It didn’t work out for either of us. Then, of course, there are pythons sneaking in the neighbor’s bushes, alligators in New York sewers, and from time to time a Lion leaping over his owner’s fence and rambling down Highway 131. Wild animals don’t make good pets. Yet we can’t help trying to domesticate them.

So it is with God. He doesn’t make a very good pet either. Luke tells us in the fourth chapter of his gospel account that Jesus gained a bunch of friends when He showed up to speak at their local synagogue. They were pretty impressed by Him. One neighbor mentioned to another, “Hey, this is Joseph’s son.” They thought they had the inside track with this powerful celebrity. “He will work out just fine for us. Surely he will take our side. Let’s get a Jesus taco stand up right away!”

Jesus alludes their net. He’s wild. He won’t stay in a cage. He won’t stay on a leash. He won’t pee outside. And he just might bite! You can’t control Him. He just won’t make a good pet.

He will speak what He wants to speak, and it might hurt someone’s feelings. He is going to spill grace all over the place, even on things you think are undeserving. He brings half-dead and ugly victims home. He has terrible table manners and can’t seem to tell the difference between a polite elephant and a dirty despised whore. He’s wild. Or maybe we are wild, and He’s civilized. Anyhow, it doesn’t work if you think you are going tell Him what to say, when to say it, or how to say it. He’s out of control, as my friend Paul says.

To my liberal friends who try to train Jesus to talk politely about right and wrong, it won’t work. He has an uncivil tongue and without notice will make you feel like you belong on death’s row. He won’t stay in his cage, and he certainly won’t let you take him for a walk. To my conservative friends who like the Law’s teeth, Jesus will wander off into the most unseemly neighborhoods. He can’t tell the difference between someone who seems to have it all together and someone who is absolutely off their rocker. He carelessly gives undeserving people full pardon and invites them over for dinner. Jesus will make a mess of your house with babies, single moms, unruly kids, and the town drunk.

If you are looking for a pet, pets are great! But Jesus makes an awful one.