We had just dropped our oldest son, Ryan, at Baylor University so he could begin his freshman year. I thought I was handling the change well until I went upstairs to grab his bedding for the wash. I pulled the pillowcase off and instantly smelled my son. I missed him.
Another time I was in the grocery store and a woman walked by wearing White Shoulders perfume. I had to wipe tears off of my face while standing in the frozen foods aisle. Jim’s mom wore White Shoulders, and she had recently passed away. The smell brought her back for just a moment.
I’ve spoken to a lot of widows who have a difficult time cleaning out the other half of the closet because they can bury their face in those clothes and feel close to the one they just lost.
The sense of smell is closely linked to the part of our brain that holds our memories. So, I found it interesting to learn that the Bible describes Christians as an aroma to God.
All people—Two aromas
It’s human nature to classify other people according to race, age, culture, wealth, education, politics, etc. God only puts people into two categories: those who are being saved and those who are perishing. According to the Apostle Paul, those who are being saved smell like God’s Son.
There really are only two types of people. The Apostle Paul gives us those two distinct categories in 2 Corinthians. If Christians will learn to view people like God, it will change the way we see ourselves and all others.
Paul wrote, “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” (2 Corinthians 2:14–15).
To God, every person either smells like his Son or they don’t. Imagine a world where all people viewed others the way God sees them eternally. Those are the only distinctions that truly matter.
The Christian parade
When you placed your faith in Christ as Lord, you were invited to walk in a parade. There is a “triumphal procession” that ends when we reach the gates of heaven.
But the parade itself has great value. Our earthly lives are the time we spend walking with Christ. Scripture describes that journey as the opportunity to “spread the fragrance of the knowledge of God—everywhere.” That is our lives’ great purpose. Wherever you go, the saved and the unsaved will sense the “aroma” of Christ through your life.
A welcome aroma
There are thousands of aromas in this world. I’ve often said that, if they could bottle the smell of a Barnes and Noble bookstore, I would buy it! The smell of coffee and new books, two of my favorite things on this planet, combine to provide a wonderful scent. It’s the smell of contentment to me.
Your life, combined with the presence of Christ, provides a wonderful aroma in this world. Most of the time, our witness is that unintentional impression we can make on the people we meet. They may not even recognize that aroma as Christ, but they are impacted by its presence.
A scent that lingers
I have a friend who wears a distinctive cologne. He usually gives me a hug when I see him and almost always leaves a trace of cologne when he does.
We have all stepped on an elevator and noticed that someone recently returned to the office with food.
We can step outside in the summer and know that a neighbor has a newly mown lawn or is serving something off the grill for dinner.
All of those scents indicate the presence of an activity. It is interesting to consider that our time spent with Jesus can cause a scent to linger long after our amen. Others will notice what Scripture describes as the lingering aroma of Christ.
Walk in the triumphal procession
Do you ever wonder what heaven will smell like?
It’s probably filled with aromas not found on earth.
Every person you encounter this week is either in that triumphal procession to heaven or not included in the parade.
As Christians, if we saw everyone else in that way, how would that change the ways we view or engage with others?
May all of us carry the lingering scent of our time spent with Jesus. It is an aroma our world will notice. Some will find it pleasant; others might not. Either way, it is what we should most want to smell like each day.
You can smell like Jesus. The world needs his aroma.