Typically, whenever I encounter an individual who strikes me as particularly “nice” I say something like, “that person is nicer than Jesus,” and I mean it in a sort of teasing and endearing way. Today, however, I encountered someone who’s niceness seemed really creepy.
What is it, I began to think, that made this particular individual creep me out, while other “super nice” folk elicit my endearment? I realized that all of the people that I know who are “nicer than Jesus” are all girls, and this nice guy…was…er…a guy. What’s going on inside of me? Why would this make a difference in my initial impression of an individual?
I think, perhaps, this is another instance of sexism in my thinking. Maybe I find nothing about “nice” people who happen to be girls because girls are “supposed to be nice.” Moreover, guys are “supposed to be,” if not mildly rude, then at least reserved enough so that they don’t express their fond feelings towards others regularly.
Was Jesus this nice? Was he nice to the point where it was creepy? At first, my answer to this question was no. Driving people out a temple with whips and calling people “dull” is not very nice. There’s something about the rudeness of Jesus that makes me happy to follow him though.
I have to wonder though, if these instances were exceptions to the rule. Was Jesus a crazy loving and compassionate dude who would creep my out if I ran into him today? These verses suggest that the answer is yes:
Mark 10: 20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.” 21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
John 11: 2 (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”
John 13:1 It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
Its not just sexism that motivates my yuk factor towards nice individuals. My mind probably associates super-niceness with cult-like behavior and with pedophilia. I’m suspicious of nice people.
Even without the suspicious and the sexism, there’s something “otherworldly” about these people. This weirdness, this “otherness” is it something that I’m called to cultivate? Is it something that I must get over and get for myself? I hope not, but if its the way of the Divine to have this eerie character, then maybe I’ll become a creepily nice person too.