Sunday, February 21, 2010

What's that smell?

But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this?
- Paul, 2 Cor. 2:14-16 (NLT)

Any coffee drinkers out there? Better question: how many don’t drink coffee? I’ve heard people say they love the smell of coffee but don’t like the taste. I personally don’t get that and think those people are probably from some other planet. But I recognize the smell of coffee, love the smell and taste of it.

Ever notice how the truth smells? Ever notice how Jesus makes people squirm?

Why is that, I wonder? I love this passage from Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth. “Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing.” I love how he puts that. That begs the obvious question. What does my life smell like, what does your life smell like?

If we call ourselves followers of Christ, shouldn’t there be something different about us? Shouldn’t we live, walk, talk, smell differently? Part of our problem is that we’ve become so much like everybody else that no one notices us. There is nothing different about our lives. We fit in, we blend. I mean, I know we’re in the world and that’s cool, we kinda have to be. But, there should be something different about us if we follow Christ. I’m not sure we’re taking this very seriously.

Paul says that to those who are “perishing”, those who are of the world, we are a smell of death. Why is that? Because our lives should point them to Christ. And when the darkness of the sin in our lives is held up to the light of Christ, all those dingy spots have a way of showing up.

We who claim to follow Christ don’t get off the hook here either. The truth is, this passage makes me squirm a little. See, when I get hit smack in the face with truth, it hurts sometimes. When I hold my darkness up into the light of Jesus, it causes me to flinch away. The truth is that very few of us are living a life of holiness, letting His light shine in us.

I’m not talking about moving to the woods, growing a beard and carrying signs around that read ‘Repent’. I’m talking about a difference in the way we live, the way we speak, our priorities. I’m talking about love. Our lives should live out Christ’s love. I didn’t say it was going to be easy and, for the record, we can’t do it without Him. But, in case anyone has forgotten, Jesus didn’t say, ‘Do the best you can’. He said, “You are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matt. 5:48)

Here’s the good news. He knows we can’t do it alone, nor does He expect us to. That’s why He brings others into our lives to walk with us. That’s why He gave us Jesus. That’s why He gave us the Spirit. That’s why He gave us His word.

Ever notice how uncomfortable people get when you use Jesus’ name? Ever notice how someone who’s in love with Jesus looks different, walks differently, talks differently? Ever notice the difference in your own life?


  1. Scott,
    Another good word! I like it! You know, it's funny - I never put much thought into "smell" being an sense we use with God. I mean, yeah, you read his word (sight) you listen for his voice (sound) you feel his presence (touch) but now smell -
    I have been tossing over a sentence that smacked me in the face more than 2 weeks ago. Here is goes:

    Demons smell human brokenness, like sharks smell blood in the water. They move in, and take advantage of a weakened soul.

    I have been thinking about my broken areas and how to patch the wound so it doesn't smell!

  2. A good word from the far-away cousin! Good on ya, Mel! Thank you for sharing!