The Fragrance of Christ
It's hard to believe that we are already one week into spring! Everything is blooming and color is full! The beautiful hues and fragrant aroma refreshes my soul! It's as if my spirit says, "Ah! Winter is finally gone and the dormant season is over. Arise and dance for the wind blows freely and the days are long." The newness of spring puts a bounce in my step and in my heart, a new song! Kathy's blog last week was moving right along with my own "rhythm of seasons." If you haven't read it, I encourage you to be blessed by it!
A quick visit to the beautiful LSU Rural Life Museum & Windrush Gardens awakened my senses this past week. It's amazing how quickly the fragrance of the Sweet Olive attracts my attention! I totally stop in my tracks, inhale with great force, and my eyes begin the search for the tree which is usually within just a few feet of me. Isn't that how we as Christian's should be to the lost? Grabbing their attention with the fragrance of Christ ought to permeate from even our very presence. This week's Monday Musing has been written by our dear friend, Margaret Kemp. She is a kindergarten teacher and a petite woman whose faith and trust in the Lord is giant-size! She sees object lessons in everything, too! As I thought about the beautiful smells that come with spring, I thought it would be fitting for you to read her thoughts on The Fragrance of Christ. I've also included a few images of God's beautiful and fragrant palate displayed on the ground of Windrush Gardens. If you live in BR, LA and need a quiet place to restore your soul, I suggest a little visit...by yourself! Refreshing your soul will transform and strengthen your spiritual fragrance. ~Sherry
There is a strong connection between memory and the sense of smell; certain scents have the power to evoke vivid memories, and vanilla is usually associated with positive recollections. It reminds me of my childhood, where I often woke up on a Saturday morning to the smell of pancakes, made from flour, flavored with vanilla, and topped with generous portions of butter and Steen’s cane syrup. It also reminds me of my mother’s kitchen on a Saturday afternoon, when she’d take out the big electric mixer and whip up a cake. Sometimes she’d let us help spread the gooey, sugary frosting. To me, vanilla means sweetness, nurturing, and the security of home.
So what could be better than the aroma of candy and cupcakes, waffles and pancakes? How about a person who brings the aroma of Christ into a rotten, stinking world?
“But thanks be to God,
who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession
and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.
For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those
who are being saved and among those who are perishing.”
II Corinthians 2:14-15
We’re called to spread the aroma of Christ…so what does Christ smell like?
The pungent aroma of baking bread reminds me of Jesus, who called Himself the Bread of Life. When we share our faith, when we point others to Jesus, we are spreading the fragrance of the knowledge of Him who is able to give them eternal life.
“Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life;
whoever comes to me shall not hunger,
and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.’”
The aroma of Christ is the savory smell of a hot, cooked meal ---offered in hospitality to a friend or delivered to the homeless, the helpless, or the sick. Providing a meal is Christ-like; Jesus fed the five thousand. He fed the disciples. After the resurrection, the disciples were greeted by the smoky smell of fish cooking on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus provided for the physical needs of those around him, and if we want to show the love of Christ, we need to meet physical needs also.
James said it this way: “If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” James 2:17
The aroma of Christ is the pure, clean smell of freshly washed linens in the guest room opened up for one that needs a place to stay, for the Bible urges Christians to “contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” Romans 12:13
Like a bouquet of flowers delivered to a loved one, it’s a sweet floral fragrance that brings love, encouragement, cheerfulness, or sympathy.
The aroma of Christ is a breath of fresh, clean air bringing kindness, calmness, and wisdom into a room filled with the stench of arguments, strife, gossip and malice. To spread the fragrance of Christ is to desire a life of holiness and refuse to be tainted by the ugliness around us.
The aroma of Christ is the sweet smell of incense as the Christian offers intercessory prayer for his friends—and his enemies. In the book of Revelation, the prayers of the saints are described as incense rising before the throne of God.
“And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creature and the twenty-four elders fell down before the lamb,
each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” Revelation 5:8
“And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, and the smoke of the incense,
with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel.” Revelation 8:3-4
We spread the aroma of Christ when we pray for others. Never underestimate the power of prayer. I’ll share a personal example of a time when I could feel the prayers offered by the saints on my behalf. When I first moved to Baton Rouge, I was going through a personal crisis. My life was falling apart, and all I wanted to do was to crawl in bed, pull the covers over my head, and shut out the world. But I couldn’t do that, because I had just started a new teaching job that I couldn’t afford to lose. And it wasn’t as if I could say, “Excuse me, class, while I go in the bathroom and have a meltdown.” I had a room full of nervous new kindergarteners who needed to be reassured that school is a wonderful place and that their teacher would take good care of them. I had shared my problems with my friend Diane, a teacher at my former school, and she said she would share the prayer request with the other teachers there.
The beginning of school came, and I was amazed that I was able to greet the children with a smile, sing songs with them, and pray with them (without dissolving into tears.) Then I looked at the clock: it was 8 a.m., the time when the teachers in my old school met for Morning Prayer. They were praying for me---I could feel the strength flowing into my weary body because of their prayers.The fragrance of Christ is anything that helps others to experience the essence of Christ and to know Him better. It’s the scent that lingers when we offer words of hope, acts of love, and prayers of faith. I could, in my own power, strive to do good deeds, say encouraging words, or offer prayers. But the deeds I do in my own power don’t spread the fragrance of Christ. When I try to do good works in my own strength, it’s like spraying on perfume after a workout (and before a bath). It really doesn’t do much good.
But when I spend time with God in prayer and immerse myself in the Word of God, the fragrance of Chris lingers in my being. When I allow His Holy Spirit to have control of my life, then the fragrance of Christ emanates from within. Then it’s natural. Then it’s genuine.
Spreading the fragrance of Christ often involves sacrifice, for Jesus Himself offered His life as a sacrifice, one which the Bible describes as a “fragrant offering.”
“And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us,
a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:2
The Bible gives us other examples of sacrificial love that can be described as a “fragrant offering.” Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, poured out perfume—expensive ointment made from pure nard imported from the mountains of India and worth a year’s wages--, on Jesus feet. The fragrance of her love offering literally filled the air. Her extravagant gift was costly, but it must have smelled heavenly, and I can’t think of a better use for her precious ointment. The world will forever remember her gift to the Savior because John records in the twelfth chapter of his gospel.
The Philippians sent Paul a financial gift, delivered by Epaphroditus (Phil. 4:18), that Paul calls a “fragrant offering, pleasing to God.” In Israel sweet-savor (“peace” or “fellowship”) offerings were sacrifices made in worship to God rather than as atonement for sin. Paul was the recipient of the Philippians’ fragrant offering to God. When we give to others, serve others, and spread the fragrance of Christ to others, it is an act of worship to God.
My “mother-in-love” (the woman who is my spiritual mentor), is someone who spreads the fragrance of Christ. Her warm and enthusiastic greeting can make the humblest visitor feel like royalty. She takes a keen interest in people; in conversations, she listens intently. Her words reveal her deep and abiding faith in God, and after talking to her, I can’t help but feel uplifted. Afterwards, a fragrance of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and goodness permeates the room.
I want to be like that. People in the world---in our community---are hurting. Many are stuck in the mire of difficulties that are the result of our fallen world, and they desperately need the fragrance of Christ. On our own, we are not sufficient to meet their need; we’re not adequate to carry out such a heavy responsibility. But, if we allow it, God will spread the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ through us to the world.
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