We All Smell Like Something
For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. 2 Corinthians 1:15-16
The sense of smell is strongly attached to memory and experience. Whenever I smell the soap that I used in treatment seven years ago, I’m instantly transported back there in my mind. Other aromas bring me pleasantly back to my childhood. Some scents I’d rather avoid – not because they’re repulsive – because they can act as a trigger for my addiction. It’s best that I actively avoid the smell of a bottle of Vicodin or alcohol, because I don’t want to go back to those places. Depending on the aroma I’m exposed to, my mood and disposition are affected for better or worse, depending on the odor.
In today’s passage, Paul continued his metaphor of smell for the effect Christ in us has on those around us. He said that as God fills us and transforms us, we naturally emanate the scent of God. To some, that will be the fragrance of life. Others though, will find it repulsive, like the stink of death. Some will love to know what God has done in our lives and others will hate it.
I see this in recovery. The one who has been saved from his addiction or even the one who desperately wants recovery, finds hope and inspiration in the success of others. The one who reveres sobriety can celebrate with those who’ve found it. Those who are enslaved to their addiction though, and have no hope of getting clean, don’t want to hear about it. The one who is hopelessly lost hates to hear about those who’ve found freedom.
It’s similar with our faith. Those who believe in and value their relationship with the father, can celebrate the transformation of others who’ve come to faith. Those who want nothing to do with Christ, hate hearing about those who follow him.
The aroma that we emanate influences those around us. We’re not responsible for the effect. The response of others is based on their own experience and attitudes, over which we have no control. We’re only responsible for the scent that we radiate. Do those around us experience the scent of Christ in us, or do they just smell the decay of following our own way? We all smell like something. What that is, is up to us.