In a world where entire nations are on lockdown, families are being quarantined, and sports have been cancelled indefinitely… there’s quite a bit of extra time on our hands. And some days, I use that time wisely: I catch up on chores, work in the yard, or make a meal with my family.
Other days? Well, I watch Netflix.
Enter Tiger King — a documentary about murder, mayhem, and madness, exploring a reality in America I didn’t even know existed. People own hundreds of big cats… lions, panthers, and (of course) tigers.
And the star of Tiger King? Joe Exotic, a mythical creature living out in the middle of Oklahoma with 1,200 tigers and lions and bears.
I’m not gonna lie, it took me less than three days to watch the nearly seven-hour Tiger King series…
Folks, it blew my mind.
I laughed (a lot).
I gasped (a lot).
I felt sick (you guessed it… a lot).
At the beginning of the series, I found myself rooting for Joe. He’s strange, sure, but he seemed to be doing good things — he loved misfits and social outcasts, he created a sense of family and made people feel loved, and he was conserving an endangered tiger species.
But, that was only the beginning. By the end, Joe is left with a laundry list of crimes and crooked actions he’s unapologetic about.
When I finished the final episode of Tiger King, I was pretty sick of Joe. I won’t spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen the series yet, but he’s a twisted, broken guy who has spent his entire life twisting and breaking others… and because he’s incredibly proud, he does it all to serve himself.
What in the world was redeemable about this guy? He was a liar, a criminal, a manipulator… overall just an aggressive and insane guy who straight up says he wants to murder people. Who could possibly empathize with this guy?
Paul the Apostle, that’s who.
Paul was a guy who admitted openly that he violently persecuted many, threw Christians in jail, and insulted God. He holds himself in low regard to even his most trusted student Timothy, writing:
“Formerly, I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent … Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.”
In my reaction to Joe Exotic and the Tiger King, I put myself up on a pretty high horse… I’m not as bad as that guy, right?
But I’m just as selfish, impatient, and wild as Joe Exotic. And even when I’m able to control those things (with God’s help) it’s not good enough. My best is never going to be good enough to earn God’s love on its own.
And if that’s true, then Joe Exotic’s worst can’t be bad enough either.
If your best was good enough or your worst could doom you forever, it’d be all up to you. Peace with God? Answering for sin? The eternal fate of your soul? That’s a lot of pressure.
Thankfully it’s not up to you. It’s up to Jesus and His best was good enough… for me, you, and even Joe Exotic.
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