15For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing (2 Corinthians 2:15, NIV).
I used to work in a gas station convenience store. I always knew when it was 3:15 because a certain woman came to buy a cappuccino on her way to work and she wore a distinctive perfume. After spending a shift in a stale aired place catching her scent always made me smile. Not every smell was quite as pleasant. I knew when the vet students came in from the farms. I knew when the stoners were making a run for munchies. I knew when the newspaper delivery guy who was a chain smoker walked into the shop. And don’t get me started on the bathrooms.
Smells are incredibly powerful and can evoke all kinds of emotions. Experts tell us that before a child can ever really distinguish her mother’s face she knows her mother’s smell. My neighborhood was full of the smells of barbeque grilling this past weekend. All kinds of memories can be evoked by the smell of homemade bread or fresh from the oven chocolate chip cookies. Home sellers are encouraged to create very pleasant smells in their homes when prospective buyers are touring.
People can be very sensitive to smells. It is considered selfish and inconsiderate in social settings for people to wear fragrances due to allergies and extreme sensitivities. What was once thought to be pleasant and appropriate can now result in exacerbating asthma attacks. I love my husband’s aftershave but I can’t convince him that less is better. He seems to be unable to smell a single spritz so he crosses a line into overkill and overpower.
So, how does that fit in with Paul’s teaching about our being the aroma of Christ? It reminded me of walking into our home recently. My husband had marinated some salmon and had it baking in the oven. The smell made me salivate and envision a very delicious dinner. Our younger daughter stopped by to drop something off and immediately screwed up her nose and complained about the awful fishy smell. How could it be both?
Our lives as believers will leave an impression. For some, it will be pleasant. For others, however, it will be considered stench. We can be considerate to not overpower, but we cannot afford to allow political correctness or social convention to rob us or dilute the truth of who we are in Christ. Be sensitive but always be sweet in the eyes of God.