Have you ever gone to a theater and watched one of those 3-D movies? Through the advanced technology of film-making the characters appear to come right out of the screen and practically envelope the members of the viewing audience.
When I first heard about this technology I made the comment that the only thing left in entertainment was to somehow communicate not just the audio or video aspects of communication, but also the olfactory aspects of communication — the smells.
One of the phenomena about our church here in Florida is that on one end of the building there is an outdoor platform which is equipped just like the platform inside, allowing for a full-scale outdoor worship experience to take place. People can drive in and worship while sitting in their cars or golf carts, and will not miss anything.
On one occasion, two fellows were standing on that platform and were leading the drive-in congregation in worship. It was a beautiful, albeit very warm, evening. As these two fellows were leading, they were very energetic in their leadership, moving back and forth across the platform and working up a sweat as they did so. At one point in the program, they pinched their noses, asked if anyone had clothespins for their noses, and indicated that they were getting too close to each other. They knew that was so because of the “aroma” that each gave off.
Thinking about what those guys were talking about, and how the movies communicate everything but the smells, I began to think about the smells we experience, from the aroma of a wonderful pumpkin or apple pie or freshly baked bread to the odor of a dead skunk on the highway.
Those meditations led me right to the one direct question that we want to ask today: What aroma do you give off?
I’m not talking about whether or not you showered this morning. Nor am I inquiring about your choice of deodorant. I am not even referring to the odor that happens when you remove your shoes after a long day on your feet. No, I am not challenging your ability or non-ability to sweat. I’m asking what sort of aroma you emit, as an individual. Oftentimes, we cannot smell our own aroma, and even those closest to us cannot discern how we smell. But others can, and do. What sort of aroma do you emit through your attitude, your persona and your character?
In 2 Corinthians 2:14-15, we read these words: “But 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. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.”
If you are a Christ-follower attempting to live in the real world, you are going to give off an aroma, and that aroma is the smell of Christ in us. The only question is how strong is that aroma to those with whom we come in contact? Can they smell Christ in us? Does the knowledge of Christ make a difference in our lives?
There once was a missionary candidate in language school. On the very first day of class the teacher entered the room and, without saying a word, walked down every row of students. Finally, still without saying a word, she walked out of the room again. Then she came back and addressed the class. “Did you notice anything special about me?” she asked.
Nobody could think of anything in particular. One student finally raised her hand. “I noticed that you had on a very lovely perfume,” she said. The class chuckled.
But the teacher said, “That was exactly the point. [It] will be a long time before any of you will be able to speak Chinese well enough to share the gospel with anyone in China. But even before you are able to do that, you can minister the sweet fragrance of Christ to these people by the quality of your lives.”
Someone once made the statement that has become a well-worn proverb: Actions speak louder than words. That, my friends, is what it means to have an aroma. Long before our words ever sink into a person, they will have observed our actions, and will have smelled our aroma.
So the main question for each of us to ask ourselves is: Do my actions and my words measure up? Am I consistent in my conduct?
I believe this is what the author was saying when he said, “The Great Commission says, ‘Be My witnesses. If necessary, use words!’” People will never care how much you know until they know how much you care.
God is calling for each of us to emit a sweet-smelling fragrance by growing in our knowledge of Him. We do not do that by any other way other than growing in our relationship with Christ, by spending time with Him daily in His Word and in prayer, in telling others about Him and worshipping Him daily.
The weather may be a bit cooler now, but the hot and sweaty season is just around the corner. For each of us, the question is simple: What aroma do you give off? Are you emitting that Christ scent? Or is it more of a you scent? God wants to use your aroma as a sweet-smelling fragrance to attract others to Him. Won’t you get things right with Him today? Please do — I am out of clothespins.
Chuck Tabor is a religion columnist for The Times-Gazette and a former Hillsboro area pastor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.