Our church is holding some evangelistic services soon and we’ve all been thinking about who we should invite to join us at church, so they can benefit from these services. It has caused us to contemplate how we can identify those not yet saved but for whom such an invitation would be well received. It seems from our scripture today that their openness to the gospel and its life-giving power may depend on what they think we smell like!
Some people find the aroma of our lives pleasant and attractive. Clearly, we aren’t talking about our level of physical cleanliness or use of expensive perfumes, but a spiritual aroma which is the fragrance of Jesus in us. They may not understand their own feelings toward our lives, but this scripture tells us it is because they have ‘smelled’ a pleasing fragrance with their inner ‘nose’. Now maybe that sounds strange to you, but it seems that it isn’t only our bodies that are able to smell smells and taste tastes. Our humans spirit has a similar ability to discern fragrances and tastes, but in the spiritual realm. In fact, our humans spirit has many senses. The Scriptures bear this out. For instance, Psalm 34:8 says ‘Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good’.
So, some people are drawn to share our beliefs because the fragrance of Jesus entices them. They are open to Him and the fact that we smell sweet to them shows that their hearts are ready to receive Him and His life-giving truth. These people will definitely be more prepared to accept an invitation to an evangelistic service. They will have spiritual as well as physical ears that hear the message and it will be much more likely that the truth will touch their hearts.
But the verse also states that there are others for whom we are a ‘bad smell’. The smell hasn’t changed, but now the scent of Christ, working through us, is abhorrent to them. Somehow, they’ve chosen to harden their hearts, and what’s working in them is totally against the ways of Jesus, and so hates His aroma. The inevitable conclusion of this turning from Jesus is clear from this verse. They perish, not just physically, but eternally. Even if they did, out of politeness, accept an invitation to come to the church with us, their spiritual ears would be deaf, and their hearts would be closed to the gospel.
One Christian, but those around respond in two distinct ways; one smell, which can attract or repel; one person’s heart, open to Jesus and His good news, and one closed, and repelled by Him. Our task is to faithfully reflect the fragrance of Jesus in our lives, and then we’ve done what we can to draw people to Him. Inviting someone to attend church with us might be welcomed or rejected, but we can only be brave enough to ask them and hope we smell good to them.
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, we want to be more like You each day, so we can increasingly radiate Your life-giving fragrance in our very broken and hurting world. Help us to be aware of those around us whose hearts are open and who are being drawn towards You by Your sweet aroma working through us as we go about our daily lives. We pray today that You will continue to work in those who at present receive Your fragrance as a stench because they’ve turned from You. We pray for miracles which change and soften hearts. We ask it in Jesus name, Amen.
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