Day 25: Do you smell?
Pepé Le Pew, a cartoon character constantly in search of love, has one major flaw. He’s a skunk! Let’s face it, we do not like even being around people who smell, never mind loving them. Do you smell? Do I?
I have a sensitive noise to odors. It can be annoying. I will be with my wife and ask, “Do you smell that?” “Smell what?” is often her answer. I will tell her I need to leave to get some fresh air. Live with someone for over 25 years with a sniffer like mine, and it is downright annoying.
Which brings me to today’s Scripture.
Sheep are annoying and smelly. Jesus says He is our Good Shepherd. Now I know this is a metaphor, but we are the annoying smelly sheep. He says He loves us, stink and all.
(Seriously, when we picture sheep, it’s always a little romanticized, isn’t it? Beautiful white sheep, grazing on beautiful green grass in the British Isles. They're stinky!)
Ponder this idea of Jesus as a Good Shepherd. Yesterday, I asked if you could see yourself as a sheep. I wasn’t being cute -- I was asking you to imagine yourself as not terribly lovable.
Today I am asking you to consider that Jesus loving you has nothing to do with any qualities you bring to the relationship, save for one.
The one quality, God created you. You are His.
The Good Shepherd loves you because of who He is, not because of who you are. This is Good News. We don’t have to earn God’s love. God loves us even when we smell. Listen again to Jesus’ words:
Not everyone likes His attitude of love. Why? He is describing God-sized love. You would think people would say in their hearts, “This is great, God loves me unconditionally!”
The Pharisees, however, don’t. Their reaction is the opposite. They try and kill Jesus with stones.
Why? The text tells us. He is claiming to be God.
He is challenging their way of living. He is refuting their claim to know God. He, in a very pointed way, is showing them His power, and telling them after all the studying of Scripture they do not know God.
It is easy to pick on religious people. I am religious, but I even like to do it. (Pick on religious people, that is.) After all, religious people have the nerve to tell you they are following God. Furthermore, they want you to follow their God.
For a moment, let’s resist the temptation to point out others’ faults, and instead try and look in the mirror.
What conclusion do you come to regarding Jesus’ words? This is a message of love. This is a message that challenges the religious of the day. However, some conclude that because Jesus is all about love, and that “all we need is love” (the way we/they define love), they conclude that “all we need is love” means “anything goes”.
That is not the point. The point is to invite us to look in the mirror. The point is really a question (or two or three)...