Guest Author: Becky Musgrove | follow
For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. | 2 Corinthians 2:15
I’ve always loved the smell of coffee. Even the idea of it is appealing. I mean, who wouldn’t want to jump out of bed in the morning, full of anticipation for that cup o’ joe, ready to face the day (Folgers, anyone)? Unfortunately, for years—hopeful sip after hopeful sip, I found that the taste of coffee never actually lived up to its wonderful smell or delivered on that promise of a perfect morning. Now, later in life, I have come to realize that I was missing out big time.
As any true coffee lover would attest, the fragrance of coffee is just a small part of its allure. And believe it or not, there’s actually a scientific reason for this, which lies in the distinction between fragrance and aroma. Fragrance is almost one-dimensional and involves only what you detect through your nose, so it’s quite possible to enjoy the fragrance of something superficially—without ever really experiencing it. Aroma, however, is so much more. The combination of the smell and the taste allows you to experience the coffee not only nasally, but retro-nasally, as it travels from your mouth to your inside nasal passage.
Aroma cannot be experienced from a distance.
It requires getting up close and personal.
It’s the same in the Christian life. Paul tells us that we are the aroma of Christ to God and others (2 Corinthians 2:15), a high calling that cannot be carried out in isolation with other believers.
We cannot love others from a distance.
Love requires action.
It requires us to get our hands dirty and get outside of our comfort zones, particularly when witnessing to non-believers.
Aroma that Works. Last summer, I had the privilege of traveling to Israel with a team dedicated to serving the people there. We spent the first week in the West Bank helping a group of full-time workers who showed us first-hand what this looks like. Since Islam is the official religion of this region, Christians there are an overwhelming minority (just 2%) and can face real persecution.
Sharing Christ in the West Bank is focused on building relationships with the people and showing His love by serving their practical needs. This is exactly what the full-time workers there do. Burdened for the Muslim population, they started a charity that serves families affected by disability. Specifically, they provide respite care for children with serious cognitive disabilities, many of whom are undervalued and neglected and come from families who don’t have the resources to properly care for them. Therefore, a large part of their ministry is the additional support and encouragement they provide to the families during weekly home visits. Well-known and respected around town, they are the hands and feet of Jesus to their Palestinian neighbors, the aroma of Christ to God, caring for the least of these and loving them through their actions first.
Throughout the Gospel of John, Jesus sets a precedent for this with the people He encounters. Time after time, He serves the physical needs of those around Him before meeting their spiritual needs. This often allowed Him to use the people’s physical realities to highlight their deeper spiritual needs.
In Cana of Galilee, Jesus saved a bride and groom from embarrassment and ridicule by turning water into wine. By a well in Samaria, Jesus used a woman’s simple physical need for water to show her need for living water that would eternally quench her thirst. At the pool of Bethesda, Jesus healed a lame man and later offered him spiritual healing through forgiveness of sins. On the shores of Galilee, Jesus fed a hungry crowd of over 5,000 with just 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. The very next day, He offered Himself as the Bread of Life, who gives eternal nourishment. On a Sabbath day in Jerusalem, Jesus restored physical sight to a blind man, who later boldly (and without fear of consequence) recognized Him as Lord. Jesus then used this miracle to condemn the Pharisees for their spiritual blindness.
In caring for the practical needs of others, we are given opportunities to share the love of Christ that we would not otherwise have.
Where in your life do you need to be more available, more in tune with those around you? Jesus recognized the needs of those around Him and acted on them. Do you know someone who has a physical need that you can help meet? Consider that God may want to use you instead of someone else!