Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Smelling Sweet

I started a new study last week with two other friends here on the mission field. There was a portion of the study that I have not been able to get out of mind since reading it. I thought I would copy it here for you. I hope that it means as much to you as it did to me. It is challenging and thought provoking!

"But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ
and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.
For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and
those who are perishing."
2 Cor. 2:15

When I was a teenager I had a part time job at the big variety store in town. Every Friday afternoon some folks would come in to cash their paychecks. We always knew when these guys were in the store because you could smell them coming. They spent their entire day holding, touching, and packing onions and that smell rubbed off on them, their clothes, their hair, even their paychecks. They carried with them the aroma of onions because they had been so closely involved with onions for such a long period of time. They didn't come in the store and try to smell like an onion. They didn't take classes on what onions smell like. Their aroma was a natural outcome of where they spent their lives, day in and day out.
Are you an aroma of Christ? It doesn't automatically come with being a Christian-or a missionary. Can others smell you coming from a mile away, like those folks in the store? There was no wondering where they had been. What about you? Can people you know tell that you've been sitting at the Master's feet? You can't fake it. You'll be found out every time. That's the unique thing about an aroma. Either you have it or you don't, and there's only one way to get it- by absorbing it from the source. Note in the verse that it is the knowledge of Him that is fragrant, not us. It is only when we have this knowledge of Him -not about Him, but deeply, intimately of Him-hidden deep within our hearts that we become aromatic.
A lot of people think that a ministry is the same thing as an aroma. But a ministry can be faked. People can have a lot to write home about-lots of numbers, lots of disciples, lots to show for their effort, lots of church members. They are considered successes, great Christians, models for others. But how many of those end up in disgrace, compromised morally or discouraged in the work-having attempted to do something for God instead of learning to be in Him? There's a huge difference. It isn't about us. It's about Him.
In this verse it is interesting to see to whom the aroma is drifting. Not to the world, missionary, because it isn't about them; not to the church, preacher, because it isn't about them either; but to God Himself. It's all about Him. It is to Him that we smell sweet. He is the recipient. And it is God who "spreads everywhere the fragrance, " not us. It is not our work; it is His work through us. Our most important task is absorbing Him and being transformed into His likeness, not doing great things for Him. He can handle the doing, but we are to love Him so much that we sit before Him, worship Him, adore Him, learn His ways, memorize His words, dwell on His promises. That is our task.
So even though being an aroma sounds like a wonderful idea, I keep wanting a "how to" plan. You can't judge your effectiveness at being an aroma like you can with more tangible things so it is hard to feel successful. Your measuring stick can't be the outcome of a situation or the reaction of another person to you because you can't control those things and you don't necessarily know what God's purpose is in any given situation. Your standard has to be the Word of God.
It is God who judges us and He doesn't measure success as we do. He wants to see in the end a heart that has been conformed and shaped to the image of Christ. We are not to abide in Christ so that we get results in our work. We are to abide in Christ so that we begin to be transformed into His image-we begin to look like Him, sound like Him and yes, smell like Him. It is enough. It is the ultimate. If we truly become mirrors of Christ....we will see God bring a world to Himself and we will have the honor of being part of His work. Yes, we will be imperfect. We will make mistakes. We will fail, and may go through times when we do not feel very close to God. But we can rest assured that if we continue to sit at His feet, He is able to bring glory to His name through us wherever we are. He can receive glory if we are to Him an aroma of Christ-filled with the knowledge of Him.

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