Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Smell of Death

Leila has started blogging, and it seemed to be in all the buzz tonight at One28. One of her blogs, "Smelly Christians," was about the aroma of life that Christians exude. Andy, her husband, had seen my comment on one of her blog entries and commented to me about it. "Stink on!" he said with his wry smile. We continued to talk about the fragrance of life (and one of the favorite comments among One28-ers is "Stink!") I said to him how it's definitely a stink of death to those who are perishing...which reminds me of the picture that comes to mind with that verse.
I think of a lily. My mother-in-law used to buy us an Easter lily every Easter, and my allergic response would go through the roof. The smell of it was very sweet, especially when the flower was new; I'm not sure which was more overwhelming, the allergy or the perfume. I often put them outside so I wouldn't have to deal with them. But when that flower got old, that over-sweetness turned rank, and who could stand that? It did have an obnoxious death to it.
Our fragrance of life should be sweet. Maybe so sweet that it's hard to tolerate? I don't know about that. But I know that the same fragrance that other Christians would appreciate are the same things that bring hostilities from unbelievers or drive them away. It reminds them of their mortality, of how they know they don't belong to God and they are perplexed as to whether they want to know Him, and they are convicted of their sinfulness. Probably anyone who remembers becoming a Christian also remembers that feeling from beforehand, when Christians were around. It's like being near an old, dying lily.
Later tonight, Barbara, one of the students, was talking with me about it, about the smell of other Christians--and we were discussing how when we're in a crowd of Christians, it's like being in a rose garden--in the middle, after a while, you can't even smell the perfume because it's all around you. But if you're in China among all unbelievers, in all your loneliness for fellowship you might be able to "smell" a Christian a mile off, like you would a solitary rose.
I never thought of myself as a word-picture's kind of fun when it comes along.
2 Corinthians 2:14-16 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things?

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