Recently on an unseasonably warm day I was walking in a populated area when a man passed by who smelled heavily of suntan lotion. Immediately, I was transported to the beach, basking in the sun, sand between my toes, water lapping at my feet. It was such a pleasant, welcoming aroma that I nearly followed after him just so I could keep smelling it, (but decided that might be a little too weird).
That sudden sensory jolt reminded me of I Corinthians 2:14-16:
But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?
I’m a bit of a bloodhound when it comes to smells so I’ve been intrigued by this whole “aroma of Christ” idea. I’m recording my thoughts below in bullet points. Forgive me for not being terribly cohesive.
-It is to God that we are the aroma of Christ. If we had been one of Jesus’ disciples when He walked the earth in flesh, no doubt we would have become familiar with his smell. I can even imagine his followers holding his clothes and possessions to their noses after His death just to breathe in His scent once more. God is also familiar with His scent and when we spread the knowledge of Him, God smells Jesus on us, which has to please Him immensely.
-Going back to the idea of suntan lotion, I like to think we smell like “Son” tan lotion when we’ve spent time in the presence of the Lord. The more time we spend with Him, the heavier the scent. Just as natural suntan oil yields pleasant thoughts- peace, rest, family, fun- our “Son” tan lotion produces similar pleasant thoughts in those around us who are longing for Jesus (even when they don’t know it).
-The smell of death also conjures up some potent thoughts. Five smells come to mind, three involving actual death, and two that create adverse reactions in me.
- The acrid smell of the formaldehyde bathing the body organs I studied in my college anatomy class, and later in the morgue at the hospital.
- The odor of a dead animal. I’m always the first to catch wind of it.
- The stench of burning flesh when body tissues are cauterized in the operating room.
- The $300 cologne samples a friend gave my husband. If he even so much as opened the bottle, I avoided him all day because of the strong smell on his hands. Plus, the entire house would fill up with the smell and give me a pounding headache. We ended up throwing the plastic bag full of cologne bottles in a dumpster.
- My recent aversion to smoked paprika and other smoky scents and flavors. Suddenly, certain taco and fajita seasonings make me nauseous and give me a migraine headache. Bummer!
With all five of these odors, my only thought is avoidance. Get rid of it! Get it out of here! I’m sure that is how those who reject Jesus feel when we come around them. They can’t stand that familiar smell of Christ.
I don’t think we realize how much we smell like Jesus or bring His presence into every situation; I know I don’t.
It’s kind of like a smoker who doesn’t realize that his clothes, his car, his breath and his skin all smell like smoke. He’s gotten so used to the odor that he doesn’t even perceive it.
When we hang with Jesus, His smell rubs off on us. We get used to it and don’t think about it much, but those around us definitely notice it. They notice it in the way we carry ourselves, in our speech, our actions, our love, our joy, our peace.
I pray that everywhere I go and you go, people will recognize the familiar scent of the Savior.
Have you spent enough time with Jesus lately that His aroma has rubbed off on you and you’re spreading it to everyone else?