A few weeks ago I went out for a nice long, slow run on a Saturday morning. I think everyone else in the city was sleeping in so I had the streets mostly to myself. We have had record rainfall in our part of the Mitten State so the grass and growing things are lush. There was a beautiful fragrance of life in the morning air. Lilacs were in bloom as I ran along the margin of a large estate. The moisture of morning and a slight breeze scented the air with pine at one point in the run.
A couple miles out I noticed that some sanitation workers were on the job. A huge garbage truck growled to a stop and I ran by in the opposite direction. A few feet past the truck a powerful offensive odor assaulted my nostrils. I picked up the pace trying to outrun the unpleasant intrusion. I few minutes later I smelled it again. The truck was nowhere in sight. It was a mystery. A highly unpleasant mystery. Finally I realized that the bottom of the truck must have had a large amount of standing liquid in it. Every time the truck turned a corner the liquid sloshed out onto the street. Wherever that liquid marked the street there was a powerful, pungent odor.
I probably improved my time… just trying to outrun the noxious fumes. It was the scent of corruption. It was the smell of dying things, rotting things. Within a few minutes of each other there was the scent of life and the scent of death.
According to the Scriptures followers of Christ can give off a sweet scent perfuming the air wherever they go. Eugene Peterson paraphrased this as “an aroma redolent with life.” Because of Christ, his presence and work in us, we smell like life in a dying world. I like that idea.
Like the scent of a bank of honeysuckle
Like the fragrance of fresh-baked bread
Like the aroma of coffee while the sun is coming up
Like the alluring perfume of apple pie cooling in the window
Like the perfume of new-mown hay moving the curtians
Like the smell of a wood fire on an autumn evening or burning leaves
There are others who just don’t get it. Those who are destined for destruction are spiritually clueless. Their spiritual senses are dead. They are dead to life and alive to death. They don’t know what is good for them. That must be sad. The truth of God?the Gospel to us is the fragrance of life. The truth of God to them is only condemnation and death. How sweet to be rightly related to God.
In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation–an aroma redolent with life. But those on the way to destruction treat us more like the stench from a rotting corpse. This is a terrific responsibility. Is anyone competent to take it on? (2Co 2:14-17 The Message)
Riverfront Character Inn
May 24, 2004