I realized last night that this will be my 100th post. My husband told me that it is noteworthy, although the only thing that I think is truly noteworthy is that Jesus continues to call me to this writing thing. I maintain that I have nothing to say, so imagine my surprise every morning (M-F) when I hit the publish button.
Each day I pray that it is God honoring. Sometimes when I am finished I think, “I have no idea what I am talking about”. Then someone will contact me and tell me that I must be watching them. It is a wonderful exercise in the Spirit. I get to see His long arms stretch over His people.
So, #100 it is. It is cause to celebrate Him, as if we need another one.
2 Corinthians 2:14-17, NRSV, But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads in every place the fragrance that comes from knowing him. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not peddlers of God’s word like so many; but in Christ we speak as persons of sincerity, as persons sent from God and standing in his presence.
Sometimes I find it hard to put the Spirit into words. I will find myself walking through a store, or waiting in line and it is as though I recognize someone. It is not a face, but it is like I understand that they have the Holy Spirit. The Spirit, in me, recognizes itself in a stranger.
This language that Paul uses is as close to an explanation that I can find. These strangers that stop me in my tracks just smell right. There is a fragrance that comes from knowing Jesus.
Paul, in these verses, was referring to a triumphal procession in which incense was burned. You could smell the parade coming. As with any good parade, when we walk down the street, people should smell us before they see us. This is the work of the Spirit, He goes before us.
There are some people in my life that are like sitting down for coffee with the Holy Spirit. You just lap up every moment with them because they are refreshing and alive. They speak of Jesus like, no, because they know Him personally. You know that they spend time with Him, laughing, crying, talking, asking questions, thinking and listening. They just smell fragrantly right.
I also know some people who talk about Jesus, and I smell nothing. I do try, but it is probably embarrassing for both of us the more sniffing I do. I want to believe that everyone has this scent…but they don’t.
We are this scent to those who believe, and to those who do not believe. To believers we smell alive and refreshing, like life; but to unbelievers we remind them of their own impending death. This could be why we get unfavorable reactions much of the time when we profess our belief in Jesus. You can’t help it, you just smell right.
When studying Paul’s letter we have to keep in mind that it is a series of points and arguments that he is making to the church. This question of sufficiency is answered later with a resounding, only God. God alone is sufficient to lead us in this smelly triumphal procession. I certainly couldn’t smell like that on my own, could you?
It is a procession slowly making its way through the streets and homes of our towns. I can imagine the arms of fragrance like hands summoning those in its reach. It fills the houses of the Lord on Sundays. It is like the old cartoons when the characters would smell a homemade pie and fall into a trance where their nose leads them right to us. And there it is, divine appointment. It happens with the saved and the lost. You know what I am talking about.
If you smell right, then you should thank our fearless leader because there is a reason for this. You stink just right because you don’t peddle the word of God.
Hmmm. Peddle the word of God?
Those who smell right do not bend the word of God to fit their lifestyle. They do not compromise the word of God. They do not speak of it for their benefit. They do not use that as a tool to get respect and wealth. It is not a commodity. It is something sacred. We do not set up our stand on the road side and sell salvation with a bonus bobble head doll. We are not peddlers.
I saw this last week in VBS. There is one thing that kids understand, and that is a peddler. They know when you are the real thing and when you are not. They can smell a fake a hundred yards away. So can the dying. They have too much at stake to deal with spiritual duplicity.
Our goal is that we, the fragrant, speak as persons of sincerity. We don’t sugar coat it and we don’t protect it. We are a mouth piece. We are people sent to speak the gospel and be completely inadequate doing it.
To think of my life, all parts of it, as happening in the presence of God keeps me sincere. It keeps me on task. I have to expect something to be left over from spending time with Jesus. I have to expect to smell a certain way, and know that others will react to that smell, good or bad.
So, today, when someone says, “You stink”, just say, “You got that right!”
Are you ready to stink today?
Father, thank you for calling us to sincerity. Thank you for not letting me rely on myself, because I am so inadequate to do anything for you. Show us how your Spirit goes out ahead of us, today.