You want to smell like me?

Top 10 all-time favorite smells (no particular order):

  1. Beach (especially in the rain)
  2. Brownies baking
  3. Freshly cut grass
  4. Outboard engines (I know, I’m weird, but there’s something about gasoline and salt water)
  5. Gardenias
  6. Book stores
  7. Inside of new shoes
  8. Indie music stores (something about vinyl and incense)
  9. Photography chemicals (probably explains a lot about me)
  10. Coffee

Smell is the sense that is most connected to memory. The olfactory bulb is part of the brain’s limbic system, which is closely associated with memory. The first time we encounter a scent, our brain can immediately recall it the next time we catch a whiff. Sometimes, scent can remind us of an emotion, like how you might feel when you smell funnel cakes at the fair.

Scent can remind you of people. For me, when I smell ‘new car smell’ along with cool a/c, it reminds me of Saturday mornings. My grandparents used to drive by our house on the way to the book store each weekend. They would pull in the driveway and talk to my Dad and I while we were working in the yard. (Well, Dad was working in the yard, I was probably just playing basketball). Sometimes we would just lean against the windows of the car and talk. Other times, they would offer for us to crawl in the back seat of their Lincoln Town Car and cool off a while. I certainly miss those days and miss my grandparents immensely.

Scent can remind of us places. Whenever I smell car exhaust, it reminds me of a certain mega city in East Asia that I frequent. It’s filled with cabs and buses. Somehow, I don’t hate the smell.

Remember this gem? There’s no greater pitchman than 7’7″ former center for the Washington Bullets, Gheorghe Muresan.

Aside from cabbage, what should we smell like if we are trying to be authentic in our faith?

2 Corinthians 2:14-16 says:

14But 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. 15For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?

Incense and perfumes were often burned in triumphal procession. The burning was to celebrate victory or rejoice events that recently happened. As disciples, we should smell as sweet to God as the incense.

As disciples, we can judge our effectiveness based on the fruit of our efforts. Is our scent sweet and refreshing, or foul and rotten? I have to strive every day to have my life be an ‘aroma’ that reminds people of God. I want people to smell the proximity of the Holy Spirit when they are in my presence. As verse 14 describes, our job as believers is to ‘spread everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.’ The way we do this is to share His love with others. Our fragrance will be classified as ‘sweet’ based on our obedience to God’s commands, not by people’s (non-believer’s) reactions to us.

Incense and candles are nothing more than temporary objects. They are sacrificial in nature. We set them on fire and as they get consumed, we are left with a wonderful smell. Eventually, they burn down to nothing but ash or a messy bunch of wax. As God chooses to use my gifts, talents and passions (the stuff he gave me anyway), I hope that it can leave others with a wonderful scent.

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