It can evoke strong memories, warn of danger, or make someone swoon. It can be pleasant or nauseating and have varying nuances for different individuals. It provides flavor and environment understanding. It can be powerful, mild, pungent, sweet, mouthwatering, or tear-inducing. Smell is quite an amazing miracle, and carries a great deal of value for our lives, minds, and activities. Smell can also make for a great object lesson or basic reminder to ourselves of our purpose and calling as children of God. Just as an odor can be magnificent or repulsive, our actions to God and to others can have differing meanings, and should deliberately reflect who we are in Christ.
For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. -2 Corinthians 2:15
What is an aroma exactly? The dictionary describes the word as “an odor arising from spices, plants, cooking, etc., especially an agreeable odor; fragrance.” An aroma is a scent, a smell, a pleasing odor. An aroma gives an idea of what is nearby. If Krispy Kreme is flashing the iconic “hot” sign in the window, more than likely customers will be greeted by a delicious waft of sugary saturated fried sweetness upon entering the store. The burger joint down the road may be identified by puffs of chargrilled smoke drifting out of roof vents. A Christmas tree lot declares itself with essence of fresh pine hitting the nostrils of passersby. And on the flipside, certain aromas may indicate a nearby dairy farm, a diaper in need of changing, or a carton of milk that should no longer be kept in the fridge.
Another characteristic of scent is that it is inextricably linked to something. It is part of something else. An aroma of baking bread comes from the bread itself. With the exception of modern artificially created odors, it is impossible to have a smell without having the item it represents. An aroma of lilacs comes from lilacs. Smelling freshly cut grass means someone is mowing a lawn. A fried chicken scent comes from fried chicken. That just makes sense.
So what does all of this have to do with our status as children of God? For one thing, we are called to be pleasing to Him. The Old Testament describes the nature of sacrifices and how offerings were to be “an aroma pleasing to God.” Later, however, we are called to give ourselves as living sacrifices (Romans 12), so our very lives should be pleasing to Him. In that sense, the way we act and live should give off an air of Christ. The things we do and the attitudes with which we do them should demonstrate that Christ is near. If we are the aroma of Christ, we are also linked to Him. We represent and reflect Jesus. Our lives should be intertwined so that they are inseparable. How do we do all of this? Through prayer, of course, and Scripture study. We must also live constantly in awareness of the presence of God. That understanding should penetrate every thought, word, and deed, so that we not only demonstrate His nearness, but live by and through it. Can you smell it???