Smell is such a primal sense. A single smell can awaken memories of things long past, of places long-forgotten but suddenly recalled. For me, smell is a secondary sense, in importance somewhere below sight or hearing. Yet smell somehow connects to feelings inside of me. It is a sense that is felt first and then understood. With it we can sense the state of the world around us. I love that spring is now upon us and its fragrance helps lift our spirits after a long winter.
We read in the bible about the aroma of Christ and we sing about giving ourselves as a fragrant offering, pleasing and acceptable to God. Maybe this is the aroma of the fruit of the spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. This is the fragrance of Jesus and we find it permeating the pages of the gospels:
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
“a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench.”
“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger”
I love this fragrance!
Years ago, I learned to differentiate between the voice of the enemy and the voice of God. Whenever the voice of the Lord comes, it is full of the fruit of the Spirit. It is always loving, even though what he asks may be very hard. The voice of the enemy is like a wet blanket of condemnation. It produces guilt without hope and drives us to despair. It compels us perform rather that rest in Him.
I have the privilege of belonging to a wonderful house church, a community of people who are not afraid to share where they are, and who know that there is support for them on their journey. It is in groups like this that I sense the fragrance of Christ most strongly. As we come together, we receive words for each other, we encourage one another and we are there for each other. We receive His heart of love. The presence of Christ has a fragrance that is full of love, life, hope and peace … and He is always pursuing people. He loves us all.
Some things don’t smell so good
Unfortunately, it appears many in the church have embraced a form of christianity that is more political … and the fragrance of Jesus appears noticeably absent. Just this week, the governor of Indiana signed a bill making it legal to discriminate against people on religious grounds. This may be a political preference of people, but it is far, far from the aroma of Jesus. For many christians, the conservative political agenda has merged with a particular interpretation of scripture and the result is a whole segment of society that feels it is ok to discriminate against people.
I have been trying to find the right words to express what I feel, but this morning, I read a blog from John Pavlovitz … and his words speak eloquently on this topic.
Another writer I have discovered recently is Susan Cottrell who wrote in a similar vein on her Saturday “Jesus Blog“.
For both of these writers, God broke their hearts for the way the LGBT community is treated by the church. I especially like what Susan wrote on her About Me page … it echoes what God has spoken to my heart. Like them, I know He has called me to love this community and be the fragrance of Christ – as He enables me.