I was reading a short news article about a state legislator who wanted to ban boy’s body sprays in high schools. She thought the smell was too strong and distracting. A couple of thoughts came to mind as I read this. First, the alternative boy smell may not be any less strong or distracting. Second, doesn’t our government have better things to do? But what really struck me was how powerful smell can be. A particular scent can bring back powerful memories, both positive and negative. It can create certain moods or enhance an experience or improve the taste of food. Even as I write this, my wife is backing Christmas cookies. You can imagine the wonderful feeling – and anticipation of eating those cookies – it creates. Some use aromas as an aid in healing. Others use fragrance to repel mosquitoes or attract the opposite sex. (Not that the two are equivalent). Odors can also warn us of something potentially dangerous. My point is simply that our sense of smell may sometimes be underappreciated but is still a powerful influence in our life
Yet what is even more fascinating is that fragrance is not only a physical, organic phenomenon but has a very real spiritual counterpart. It is possible for us to have a spiritual aroma – to smell like God. Here’s what Paul says about this his letter to the Corinthians.
Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things? (2Corinthians 2:14-16, NKJV)
I also love the way The Message translation puts it:
And I got it, thank God! In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation–an aroma redolent with life. But those on the way to destruction treat us more like the stench from a rotting corpse. This is a terrific responsibility. Is anyone competent to take it on? (2Corinthians 2:14-16, Message)
Think about that. As we move from place to place, as we go about our day, we are surrounded by an aromatic cloud of the knowledge of God. People can smell Christ on and around us! They “breathe in the exquisite fragrance!” For some of those people they will smell life and be attracted to Christ and find in Him wholeness, healing and eternal life with Him. It will be a sweet aroma. For others, unfortunately, they will smell the aroma of Christ and turn up their noses. It will choose to turn away and fall headlong into death.
Smelling like Christ comes from being with Him, from nurturing such an intimacy with Him that we act, talk and walk like Him. I found this quote in a commentary, “A sweet savour of Christ! It does not consist so much in what we do, but in our manner of doing it; not so much in our words or deeds, as in an indefinable sweetness, tenderness, courtesy, unselfishness, and desire to please others to their edification. It is the breath and fragrance of a life hidden with Christ in God, and deriving its aroma from fellowship with Him. Wrap the habits of your soul in the sweet lavender of your Lord’s character.” (Meyer) I couldn’t have put it better myself.
The fragrance of a life hidden with Christ. That’s what I want. I want to be the smelliest Christian I can be!