1 Therefore, imitate God like dearly loved children. 2 Live your life with love, following the example of Christ, who loved us and gave himself for us. He was a sacrificial offering that smelled sweet to God.
Working with middle schoolers, I sometimes hear them trying to verbally taunt each other. It comes often with a quick, “I’m just kidding.” Trading comments, kids are very adept at creatively trying to top one another through sarcasm. Of course, when I hear such derision, I correct the disrespect. But upon hearing one recent jab, I instead had a slow sweet smile.
When one student of faith challenged another to do the right thing, the other student sarcastically replied, “Okay sure, Jesus kid.” As if being a follower of Jesus was meant to be a bad thing! (Of course, some people will mock anything.)
I think of how the example of Jesus is to love anyway, with vigor and with joy. It reminds me of this scripture and the sweet smell of God’s love. “He was a sacrificial offering that smelled sweet to God….” These words may be the most unique words ever given to describe Jesus’ sacrifice: “that sweet smell.”
So loving like Jesus isn’t just about the harshness of Jesus’ sacrifice, which compels us to sacrifice in his name. By loving like Jesus, we live joyfully sharing the example of Christ. Christ’s sacrifice, though harsh, was freely given so that we can live a life of love in his name. Oh that sweet smell of God’s love! Don’t we all want to live joyfully sharing the sweet smell of God’s love?
It’s good to be a “Jesus kid.”
by Barbara Carlson
For Pondering & Prayer
There are days when we are really challenged to be a Christian and it is not easy. Jesus never said that following him would be. Yet God also wants us to live joyfully, sharing love in Christ’s name. Sometimes we forget that. For me, it took what was originally meant to be a statement of mockery to remind me that God’s love is also meant to be sweetly enjoyed. How has Christ’s sacrifice been a challenge for you? How do you instead remember the sweetness of God’s love?
Prayer: Loving Jesus, thank you for the sacrifice that you have made on my behalf. Thank you for the reminder that God’s love is meant to be enjoyed and lovingly shared. Help me to share it with joy. Amen.