Several years ago, I went on a 7-day canoe trip, where we paddled 80 miles in 7 days, and slept on the banks of the Rio Grande. I remember one morning, I put on my life jacket, and thought to myself, “Wow. This thing STINKS!” Later that day, after taking the thing off, I noticed I was still smelling the foul odor. Then I realized the stench was not the life jacket – it was ME! This was a good news/bed news situation: The good news was, I smelled like a MAN! The bad news was, I smelled like a MAN who hadn’t had a bath in several days!
Guys smell stuff. We smell our socks, the old food in the refrigerator, that mildewed sweaty workout shirt you keep wearing over and over…you get the idea. But girls smell stuff, too. In high school, my wife used to dab her boyfriend’s cologne just above her lip and below her nose so she could smell him all day. (Just typing that makes me want to throw up!) There’s something about the sense of smell. It can be attracting or repelling, depending on the odor. Spiritually speaking, when people “smell” you, is what they smell attracting or repelling?
The Apostle Paul talks about the sense of smell in one of his letters to the Corinthians. He states, “For we are to God the aroma of Christ…” (2 Cor. 2:15) So, God expects us to smell like Jesus. Of course, that begs the question, what does Jesus smell like? Well, there are a ton of adjectives, too many to get into here, but there is a short list in Colossians that can get us started: “…clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (3:12) If I possessed these five characteristics, it would go a long way to smelling like Jesus. Of course, a lot of “Christians” I know are angry, judgmental, agenda-driven, arrogant, self-absorbed…And, at any given moment, I can have a lot of the latter list residing in me. And when people get too close, as Martha said about her brother Lazarus, “Surely he stinketh!” Something needs to change. But how?
Have you seen the new commercial for Febreze? They blindfold people and put them in a room full of smelly trash, old food and dirty laundry, all of it having been sprayed with Febreze. The odor is masked so they can’t smell how bad it really is. Here is the problem: Febreze doesn’t clean a dirty sock, and it doesn’t make spoiled food unspoiled. So, it gives the APPEARANCE of smelling good, but doesn’t get to the root of the problem. And, once it wears off, the odor may actually be worse than before, because it is aged. Spiritually speaking, when I see the lists mentioned above, I immediately go on a sin management campaign, because I want to be like the first list, and I can keep that appearance up for a while. But me trying harder is a mask just like the Febreze – after a while it will wear off and I will start stinking again.
So, realistically, I can mask the stench, look the part, whatever, but the only way to truly be the aroma of Christ to the world is to be changed on the inside. I have to allow Jesus complete access to every part of my life, and let him “take out the trash.” I don’t clean up first and then come to Jesus – I come and let him clean me up. He is perfectly willing and able, so the choice is mine. I want to represent Jesus well to the world. So, it’s time to take out the trash and let the aroma of Jesus fill up my life.
Maybe you want to smell like Jesus, but you’re not sure how to move forward. I don’t know your smelly trash and I don’t have all the answers, but God does. A great way to start is to connect with God and ask him your questions. Set a time to have a conversation with him, and be sure to SHOW UP! Be consistent day-after-day, and over time, you will start to smell Jesus.