St. Paul said to the church: “Thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place” (2 Corinthians 2:14 NASB).
A while back I opened up a box containing a brand of soap that I don’t normally use. The soap was given to me in a care package while I was serving in Army in Iraq. As I had just run out of my normal brand, I opened up the box of the unfamiliar soap and applied it to my face. The smell, however, was strangely familiar. At first I couldn’t place it. All of a sudden precious memories of my deceased grandparents, Pedro and Celia, filled my mind. I realized that the soap was the same brand that my grandparents used in their Brooklyn apartment to wash me when I was a child more than forty years ago.
The sweet aroma of the soap brought back wonderful recollections of my times visiting them, and the smells of Spanish rice and beans and the oil-slicked canal down the street wafted back into my mind as well. As I rinsed, the scent helped me recall the joy of playing Gin Rummy and dominoes with Grandpa, watching the roller derby with Grandma, and the taste of their old fashioned egg-creams. Their faces came back into full view, like angels staring at me from heaven. The fragrance of the soap then brought me to worship God for my grandparents love and their godly example. All of this because of the smell of a soap I hadn’t used in over forty years.
We often take our senses for granted, don’t we? Smells, tastes, sights, sounds, and textures are ways in which we understand so much of the world around us. And our senses also help us to connect to and worship God. We taste the bread of communion and remember the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. We hear the bells of the church and answer the call of God to live for Him. We inhale the sweet incense of the censer and feel the heat of the candles burning the light that points us to Jesus.
And now our scripture text reminds us that as believers we also manifest the fragrance of Christ, spreading the aroma of His love and forgiveness around the world. As we walk the streets of our communities the bouquet of God’s love should emanate from us. And as the Gospel goes forth, the wicked stench of spiritual death can be overcome by the air-filling cologne of the salvation of Jesus Christ.
After my experience that morning I wondered what I would say if someone asked me what God’s grace smells or tastes like. I guess I might answer, like Christ Himself. He is the sweet smell of the Bread of Life as it tastily comes out of the oven; He is the blazing Light of the World that created the beautiful hues of the morning sunrise; He is the amazing Truth that is softly and lovingly whispered in our ears; and, He is the powerful Resurrection and the Life that tingles the hairs on our arms as He brings us back to life from the dead! Can you sense Him, can you see Him, can you feel Him, can you hear Him?
Come and deeply breathe in the fragrant Rose of Sharon—Jesus Christ our Lord!
(c) Paul Dordal, 2010