The summer before his final year of college, Jesus of Nazareth went to Ft. Collins, Colorado. For a season of growing, to be chiseled into the kind of young man who gave the Good News without hesitation.
In the back of his mind he had the thought of meeting someone special. But, like when he would go to Wyoming the next year to work at a Christian group home, Jesus would find only heartache.
On his first Saturday there, Ft. Collins held their annual beer festival. But before Jesus and the rest of the college students could go out and save anyone, they had to be given their instructions. A rather tall, blonde-haired man from Minnesota was their leader. He gelled his hair into spikes and had a white-haired wife who, that summer, was always attempting to corral one of their four translucent-haired children. The dominate husband stood in front of the young college students in a parking lot, and if someone didn’t know better, they might have mistaken their gathering as a throwback to those rallies in German in the late 30s.
“Be bold,” the big blonde man said as he paced back and forth. Many of soon-to-be missionaries interjected with yelled ‘Amen.’ Jesus was silent. “You must be bold, young people. This is the only work you’ll do on this Earth that matters. God wants to begin a love story with each and every one of you. That means He wants a love story with each and every one of the people out there, right now! Be bold, today is your day to be bold!”
Enlivened, the young people – all fresh-faced like Jesus – hooped and hollered then split into pairs, same sexes with same sexes. Together they walked through the bright sunshine, rock music guiding them closer and closer.
Of course, Jesus was alone, as that’s how he liked to be. Or maybe it was that no one wanted him as a partner. And even if it was the case, even if it was a bit like being picked last at recess, Jesus knew he didn’t a helper to find a lost soul in the sea of heathens washing up under temporary white tents at the foot of the Rocky Mountains.
The festival-goers held each other up, it seemed to Jesus, as they shouted to one another over the music piped in through huge black speakers. Women wore mini-skirts and halter tops, their perfumes wafting through the air. And the men, rousing groups of them, drank from red plastic cups, spilling sour apple-smelling liquids on their ironed polo shirts and white cargo shorts and sandals. They reeked of body odor and cologne. One of them was lying on a bench, his head face down. He wore a sports jersey, mesh shorts and a white backyards hat. It was time to breathe Jesus’ own soul into someone else’s.
“Sir, are you alright?” Jesus asked, and it startled the man enough he opened his eyes, then just as soon shut them again. “Sir,” Jesus said, “I’m out here with a group trying to help people, see if they need anything.” The man gave a mumble, but his eyes stayed shut. The sun was hot. The street, loud. “We’re handing out a booklet about the gospel, the true gospels.” Jesus retrieved a crisp pamphlet out of his pocket. “There’s something bigger out there. You should know God loves you and wants the best for you. Do you…”
Suddenly, the man’s arm swung around like a trebuchet, batting the booklet out of Jesus’ hand. And though everyone had been told not to leave an encounter without leaving the information, the words sat on the ground near the bench as Jesus walked away, not looking back.
Maybe his late 20s, Jesus’ mentor was a balding man with a red goatee. He and Jesus sat at a picnic table as a group of drunk men behind them sang the refrain to a popular religious song. (There was a bible opened up on the table). When they left, the mentor had Jesus read a verse.
“So if God so clothes the grass in the field which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith”
After he was done, Jesus looked up from the book and noticed, for the first time, how thin his mentor’s lips were, almost disappearing in his mouth. But the man was married. And if talking to men at beer festivals about the afterlife was the kind of trial that had to be endured to find a wife, well, then it was kind of trial Jesus would endure.
“I’m telling you,” the mentor said, “sharing the Good News is the easiest thing in the world to do. But Jesus, can I ask, do you have anything you want to confess? A hidden sin?”
“No,” Jesus said, shaking his head, “no, I don’t think so.” And he really did believe that. He hadn’t looked at porn for months.
“Search your heart, Jesus, it could be preventing you from God really using you.”
The mentor flipped through the frail pages of his bible, and as he began to read what he read next, he pounded his fist, emphasizing every few words. “We know God does not hear sinners, but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him…that’s a great reminder, don’t you think?” The mentor looked up, in a way that awaited confirmation.
“It is,” Jesus said, “it is. But I just have a hard time knowing what to say, you know? It’s just hard for me.”
“But that’s the beauty of it, Jesus, you don’t have to know. God does. Remember why we’re out here. He needs our hands and feet. Let’s pray, then we’ll have you try again, okay?”
So they prayed, and when it was done Jesus thanked his mentor then went into the crowd. Back in the dense mass, Jesus soon feared God’s intercessory words would not be coming. Because as he came upon two young women, he caught himself admiring their sun-kissed breasts. And though Jesus had made the two women, composed their breasts from nothing, even caused the sun to rise and give them that slightest twinge of brown, he couldn’t help but regret making their forms so healthy. He began to pray for forgiveness, still walking, though not really sure of where.
Hands in his pockets, the festival began to seem less real, like a diorama God had placed His one and only son inside for a reason the son did not understand. Over the speakers, a rock singer crooned that it’d been a while since he said he was sorry. Jesus wandered every farther off. The music bouncing off the city. The noises dimmed.
Miles later, Jesus’ legs gave out. He collapsed under the awning of a closed business, somewhere in an industrial area. And there on a side street, away from the crowds, the savoir of all humankind let the tears stream down his face.