Lenten Thoughts: Sweet Aroma or Stench?

 

 

 

 

 

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Be sensitive but always be sweet in the eyes of God.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).

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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 also 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.

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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.

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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 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.

Do our responses to the aromas of life have anything to do with our scripture from Paul? Yes.

Paul’s words came to mind the other night when I walked into my house after work and received an olfactory blast. My husband had marinated some salmon and had it baking in the oven. The smell caused instant salivation, and a hope for a delicious dinner. In the middle of our scrumptious meal, our younger daughter stopped by to drop something off. She 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.

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Advent 18: Aromas of Christmas


When you think of the aromas of Christmas, what comes to mind?

Pine. Peppermint. Fresh baked bread. Snickerdoodles. Honey baked ham. Mulled cider. A warm and cozy fire.

All pleasant. Cozy. Enveloping.

What about poop? What about cow, donkey, and the ever odoriferous pig?

Once upon a lifetime ago, I worked at a Shell Gas Station, ringing up customers in the convenience store. We were a farm community. The local large animal vet would work with students from a nearby college. Everyday they would come through the store for snacks and sodas–and their odor always proceeded them.

And lingered long after they left…way too long.

As I listened to a customer complaining about the pungent smell one day I found myself thinking about the stable where Jesus was born. I don’t imagine it smelled of pine and cinnamon. No it smelled like a barn, with animals…and manure.

About the closest most folks get to that is once a year when they traipse off to the county or state fair.

Why would God choose to be born in that manner, in that kind of place?

He’s not afraid of or put off by any mess in our lives.

Psalm 139 paints the clear picture that there is no height or depth that God will not go in pursuing us. He loves us that much.

He is not repulsed by the stink of our lives, the rottenness of our sins. His love is relentless as it it lavish.

There’s a funny thing about poop. We try and mask the smell with pretty smells. But all we end up with is cinnamon poop.

Perhaps God sent his son into the world, to a stable, to lay in a manger so that we would realize his amazing love for us and so that we would find him and quit trying to cover our messes.

For God so loved…