Are you a pleasing aroma or a foul odor? Last Sunday Pastor Phil once again made an off-the-cuff remark that got my imagination going. In his sermon, he mentioned that Pastor Matt had sent out an email inviting us to service in the church. He said that Pastor Matt’s email was “my odor.” After repeating it a couple of times, Pastor Matt responded that his email was “M Yoder” not “my odor.” Of course, it was funnier as we heard it than as you are reading it. But it set me to thinking.
I thought about the compost that I spread in John’s garden earlier that week and the distinct odor of manure in the compost. I thought about John and Jackie’s dog Sully, who never met a skunk he would leave alone, leading to many baths to get the odor out. I thought about the number of perfumes that are stinky to me due to my allergies. Then I thought about the number of times that the Bible talks about offerings having a pleasing aroma to God. Which led me to the passage in 2 Corinthians that talks about Christians having a pleasing aroma. As you can imagine, I sometimes have a hard time keeping my mind on the actual sermon, although my mind is usually centered on Christ.
2 Corinthians 2:14-17 says this in the New International Version:
14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task? 17 Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.
We are the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved. What an interesting idea. I wonder if people smell Christ when I am around them. Is my presence a pleasing aroma that accompanies Christ or a foul stench that people would prefer go away as soon as possible? I think that Christ smells like joy, love, and acceptance but I’m not sure what that would smell like. Maybe like the honeysuckle that grows in the park where I walk every day. Or like the delicate odor of the multiflora rose that is just starting to bloom. Maybe Christ smells like pine needles or a clean kitchen. I’m not sure what the aroma of Christ is, exactly, but I do know the difference between a smell that I welcome and one that I try to leave behind.
What is the sweetest smell to you, the most pleasing aroma? Maybe that is what Christ smells like. Can we bring that fragrance into our daily encounters with others so that we are a pleasing aroma, a sweet smell?
Pastor and author Francis Chan says, “Christians are like manure: spread them out and they help everything grow better, but keep them in one big pile and they stink horribly.” I like this quote because it reminds me that Christians need to be out in the world, spreading the pleasing aroma of Christ instead of holed up in a building. Let us be sure to spread the pleasing aroma of Christ wherever we go.