By Joe Chesser
Last week my wife, Areva, cut some fresh flowers, some red roses and a white peony, and put them in a vase and set them beside our recliner. It wasn’t long after that that I made it to the recliner, and it wasn’t long after that that I noticed a sweet fragrance coming from the flowers. I assumed the fragrance was coming from the roses. Expert that I am with fragrances, it smelled like roses to me. But no! Upon closer whiffing it was the peony that smelled so sweet. In fact, the roses had little or no fragrance at all!
We all love things that smell good. Right now, our backyard is filled with the pleasing fragrance of honeysuckle. What comes to your mind when you think of things that have a very pleasing fragrance? Bread baking, bacon frying, and fresh sheets on the bed that have been dried on the clothesline are some things I think of. Also I like the smell of a new car and freshly cut grass and lilacs? I love the smell of sautéed onions and cinnamon rolls and campfires? And I’m sure there are hundreds of things you could add to this list. But I bet skunks, dead fish and rotten eggs wouldn’t make the list!
Things that smell good to us give us pleasure; things that don’t smell good repulse us. We want to be around things that smell good; we want to be far away from those that stink (that includes people, doesn’t it?). And God is no different from us in that respect. There are some things that smell good to Him and some that don’t.
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.
2 Corinthians 2:14-16
In the Old Testament, God wanted the priests to burn incense, a pleasing aroma to God (Exodus 30:7-8). Since that law was nailed to the cross (Colossians 2:14), we no longer burn incense as a fragrant offering to God. However, that doesn’t mean that God no longer cares for sweet fragrant offerings. It’s just that now the fragrance that gives God the greatest pleasure is not incense burning on an altar, but Christians: “we are to God the aroma of Christ.” As people living in and for Christ, we offer the fragrant spiritual aroma of love and holiness and grace which God loves. Like taking a long, deep breath of the freshness in the air following a rain compares to how God thinks of Christians.
Not everyone around us agrees. There are some who think Christians smell like death. They can’t stand to be around us. They avoid us at all costs. They prefer the stench of the pigpen of corruption and sin. That’s why we need to “spread everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him” (Christ).Peonies will always smell good and skunks will always stink, but you can choose the fragrance you offer to God. My hope is that you will choose to smell good to God!
- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.cofcfruitland.com/