Ever notice how a person’s scent will often leave the evidence of their presence long after they leave a room? Sometimes a loved one may be miles away, but a whiff of their shirt transports them to our side. Perhaps a stranger walks by and leaves a trail of perfume (for good or for bad) in their wake.
We all leave a fragrance behind us, both literally and figuratively. After we walk away from a conversation, for example, our words can leave a beautiful or an odious scent behind.
What about the church? Does the church have a scent? In short, yes, and the smell the church leaves behind depends entirely on what we choose to focus. Love, grace, holiness, anger, disregard, finger pointing all have their peculiar pheromones.
This is what the Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 2:14-15:
“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal possession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing…”
He goes on to state that this aroma is not pleasing to all. Just as the thought of Christ crucified is a stumbling block to some and the power of God to others (1 Corinthians 1:23-24), so the aroma of Christ is the fragrance of life to some and the fragrance of death to others.
So the question for us today is, “What aroma does our church leave behind?” After we have interacted with culture, or spoken to society, or been in a place, what do people smell? Are we spreading the spice of grace, the fragrance of the knowledge of him, the scent of service and love? Or do we leave behind the uncaring smell of indifference (“Be warm and well fed”) and the stench of bitterness?
The church is quite good at telling the world what the church stands against (not a great scent to leave behind). Perhaps it’s time the church started announcing to (and showing) the world what it is for. We are for sacrificially loving the broken and poor in spirit. We are for bringing restoration to the hurting, helping them find wholeness and holiness in Christ.
The church is on earth to be the aroma of Christ to the world. Some will love this smell, others will not.
What is our aroma? What is your aroma?