Are You a Smelly Christian?

I could also ask if you are a tasty Christian, a shining Christian, or an audible Christian. 

Human senses are gifts allowing us to experience life with vibrancy.  I am sure we all know somebody who has lost the use of one or more of their senses.  Often when this happens, the other senses are heightened in their increased dependency. Our senses help us from being numb to the world around us.  We see the grandeur of beautiful wilderness, but we also see the sorrowful effects of poverty and injustice.  We hear beautiful music and the disturbing rhetoric of evil dictators. We can smell the fragrance of fresh lavender and the pungent aromas of a refuse tip. We taste the exotic flavors of Indian spices and curries and gag at a mouthful of milk well past it’s used by date. 

The Scriptures tell us that Christians should be experienced like human senses.  In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us that Christians should be seen as the beautiful lights of a city on a hill.  We should be visual standouts.  Jesus also says that we should be the saltiness of salt that is well distinguished from the bland tastelessness of the world. The proclamation of the gospel demands that we should be the sound of hope in a hopeless world. In 2 Corinthians Paul tells us that we should be the beautiful aroma of Christ. 

“For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?” 2 Corinthians 2:15-16

The common denominator in all that we bring to the world’s senses is that our light, taste, sound and smell are all life giving.  We bring a distinct sense to a dark world and that sense is Christ. Most of the time the world will not enjoy our fragrance.  In fact, most in this world will take a small whiff of the gospel in our life and words and seek to run from or eradicate the essence. The Apostle Paul is never ashamed of his Christian aroma.  It is an aroma that, to the world, stinks like the foulness of a sewer. Paul knows that those who believe his fragrance to be this putrid are not rejecting him but are rejecting Christ. 

It also tells us something of Paul’s purpose.  Paul is not an air-freshener in the world.  He is not trying to make the world smell better.  Sometimes Christians can fall into this trap. We can prioritize motivations to make the world a little less smelly.  This is never the intention when Christians are likened to smells, tastes, sounds and sights that impact the senses.  Paul emphatically states that his fragrance will either be from death to death or from life to life. People will snort out his fragrance in disgust or breathe in the fresh aroma of salvation, the aroma of the atoning sacrifice of Christ. 

When the Lord moves in the hearts of men, your aroma is enjoyed, your taste is savored, your light penetrates, and your proclamation is heard and believed. We live out our lives in this world proclaiming the gospel so that the elect in Christ will be given a new heart, new sight, new ears, new mind, new taste and a new sense of smell. They are the ones who will experience the new sensation in an ever-increasing human experience for all eternity.