“Your car smells a bit musty,” Dad commented.
I suppose it did, the inevitable result of transporting eight frequently damp people.
But, it’s hard to smell your own car. It’s hard to smell your own house. It’s like trying to smell your own breath; you’re too close to it.
“Do I need a mint?”
Apparently I did.
So, at a recent stop for petrol I bought an Aroma Tree, in fact I bought two, “Two for £2.” You know what I’m talking about, those little fragrance trees that hang from the rear view mirror. I’ve always found them a bit tacky but, my passengers were beginning to notice.
I went for “Vanillaroma” and “Forest Fresh” and opened the vanilla first. It doesn’t smell like vanilla, at least not a natural vanilla smell. It smells like a laboratory facsimile of vanilla, like vanilla chemical.
I didn’t want to hang it from the mirror, too obvious and too distracting in my peripheral vision. So, it’s hanging from the steering column.
And it works. When I get in the car it’s the first thing I notice, like cheap perfume. I’m not sure it’s better than the smell of eight damp people, but it’s at least different.
Fragrances are powerful and evocative. They can form our first impression of people and remain as a lingering imprint.
So, it shouldn’t surprise us to find it in the bible. The Israelites were first called upon to offer sacrifices to God that would present a pleasing aroma. They were literally burning their offerings but the idea was really more spiritual; their offerings were acts of devotion, atonement and praise.
When they lived in manner displeasing to God: ignoring the poor, committing spiritual and physical adultery, embracing the pagan religions of their neighbours God complained that their offerings were a stench in his nostrils.
Paul carries the idea further in 2 Corinthians 2:14.
“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him, for we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.”
“The fragrance of the knowledge of Him…the aroma of Christ.” As believers we bear on our persons a particular spiritual aroma and like it or no, people notice. We smell different, at least in a spiritual way.
We were once musty, garlicky, odiferous; we smelled like the world and no one paid any attention, we smelled like everyone else.
But, Christ hangs an aroma tree around our necks. Only it’s not the smell of cheap perfume or chemical vanilla, it’s an anointing of the Holy Spirit, the oil of gladness. Not everyone likes it, but to some it smells like life, new life.
For those who are being saved and for those whom Christ invites unto salvation, we are pleasing, evocative and winsome. More importantly, we are pleasing to Him and He loves us like His bride (Song of Solomon 1:3).
The bride of Christ, you sure smell good.