My Pastor often uses a phrase during his sermons that can irritate me, or at least sound wrong for some reason. It is, “The Bible reeks of Jesus Christ”. Reeks…really? I’ve heard of trash reeking, farms reeking, and at times I will tell one of my boys that they reek. But the Word of God…I’m not so sure that’s the proper use of that word.
When something reeks it repels a person away from it. No one wants to smell something stinky or get close to it for sure. That’s like checking the milk to see if it has turned. You have to smell it to know, if it’s sour, you push it away fast. Or if someone has bad body odor we may give them a handshake but we probably won’t give them a big bear hug. If it reeks, it repels.
So I’ve been reading Paul’s letters to the Corinthians lately (awesome books of the Bible by the way, you should check them out) and I come across these verses:
“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, 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, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?” 2 Cor. 2:14-16
What? Not only does it talk about the Word of God having a fragrance (“the knowledge of him” = the gospel of Christ = God’s Word), but it also talks about Christians having an aroma! Now we already know that people can have different smells good and bad, but this passage speaks of something more, a powerful spiritual aroma.
Keep in mind that Paul is speaking only to Christians here and he says that as Christians we have the “aroma of Christ” and we smell different to different people. To one we smell like death (does the word “reek” come to mind?) and to the other we smell like life. Wow, we are some pretty potent people! Either others will be drawn towards us or repelled away from us. Both of these reactions come from the same scent which is the knowledge of Jesus Christ that is in us.
Why does this happen? If you belong to the World you hate Jesus and are repelled, but if you belong to God, you love the knowledge of him and are drawn. It says in John 15:19, “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” As you can see there are two very different groups of people here: worldly/hate/repelled vs. godly/love/drawn.
This is why when you mention Jesus in a conversation some will engage and have a conversation and others will shut down and end the discussion. If you have never experienced this before, it may be time to take a good long whiff of yourself. Have you been spending enough time with your Savior to smell like him? Or do you smell way too much like the world around you?
You need to have the aroma of Christ well applied and then spread “the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.” Just like the Word of God tells us too. Remember that this fragrance is life to many of those around you; Jesus draws others to him through you. This is very exciting news! Don’t feel bad about smelling like death to some around you and knowing that the World hates you. It is great assurance that you belong to Christ! It is a great thing to reek of Jesus Christ!
...Did I really just say that? Could it be true…my Pastor is right? Aw, man, can’t he be wrong just once? Well, not this time I guess.
Okay, so if you haven’t heard, I recently enlisted in a Couch to 5K (C25K) program in preparation of running my first 5K event ever at the Anamosa Pumpkinfest. In order to share in this pleasure I also signed up my oldest son, Wyatt, to run with me. Wyatt and I are not in the best shape and in fact we lean quite heavily toward the couch side of this equation (pun intended). We are well aware of our physical shortcoming so we thought this program would be a good place to start.
The very first night of our training came and I admit we were slightly nervous. One consolation was that we figured there had to be a few people in the group who were similar to us (i.e. heavy and slow). We arrived and started to make our way to the group gathered next to the track. Right away we knew we were in trouble.
The majority was slim and looked quite fit. One woman gave us hope by her appearance but she soon revealed that she was a former track coach. One guy was doing stretches I had never seen before. Despite our initial evaluation, Wyatt and I walked bravely up to the group and introduced ourselves; everyone was very nice. In the back of my head I thought, “Once again my purpose here may be to make others feel better about themselves.”
Once the running began it was soon apparent that sometimes you can judge books by their covers. Wyatt and I quickly fell to the back of the pack, trudging along at the speed we could manage. It wasn’t too long before we decided that this was perfectly okay, now the others will be impressed with any improvement they see in us, including showing up next week. We could do nothing but laugh between gasping for breath as some of the runners lapped us. The super stretchy guy we cleverly nick named “Mr. Speedy” since he ran past us so fast we could feel a breeze. Later he would become known as “Ol’ Three-Lapper”, I think you can guess why.
Now, while it is fun to laugh at the situation above, I want to talk about another type of race that should be taken very seriously. It says in 1 Timothy 4:8, “For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” We need to be training ourselves spiritually in godliness. This not only has value for today but for eternity as the verse states. Did you get that? For ETERNITY.
The writer of Hebrews even compared the life of faith to a race:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2
Picture your spiritual journey as a race. Not a race against each other, but a race toward Christ likeness. As the verse above states we are to keep our eyes trained on Jesus as the “founder” (or originator) of our faith. He calls us to faith in him, like he’s picking us for his team. Jesus is also the “perfecter” (or refiner) of our faith through sanctification, so he is also our trainer. We aren’t told to stroll along hoping to pick up some wisdom here and there as life and time allows. We are called to run, and run “with endurance”! So run, girl, run! Work hard at becoming more like Jesus.
There is also wise training advice contained in these awesome verses. We are told to get rid of dead weight, “…lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely…” Ever try to run a race while carrying large bags of trash? No, that would be stupid, so is carrying sins while we try to be more like Jesus. So lay aside anything that even potentially hinders your spiritual growth. Take the time to really think about this one please.
While you are running you will gain strength and encouragement from God’s Word, since it is your sustenance (Matthew 4:4). Jesus will be ever near with his commandment of “Go” (Matthew 28:19).
Paul also spoke of this race in 2 Timothy 4:7-8, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.”
This verse even promises a prize for running the race well, a “crown of righteousness”. This does sound like an exciting prize, but far greater than that will be praise from our Savior when we get to the finish line (Matthew 25:21).
Wyatt and I will have ups and downs as we train and many more laughs along the way (especially since I told him we have to dress up like big pumpkins). But our true race is one towards Christ and that race is the only one that really matters. So, Ladies, its time; lace up your running shoes and step out on the track. Set your eyes on Jesus and run, girl, run!
If you have been paying attention at all to any of my blogs you already know that I love the Word of God. I will never be shy about that. This love has, and continues, to grow over time, but it started when I was quite young. I would say l loved the Bible even before I knew how to read it. How? Because I saw the love that my parents had for it first.
My Dad has always been an avid reader; he loves books. But there is only one book that I can remember finding him reading every morning when I would come downstairs to the kitchen table, and that is the Bible. He would be sitting there with coffee in hand and his Bible open before him. Now my father is an early riser so I didn’t get to witness this every day, but when I pulled myself out of bed and found him in the kitchen he nearly always had something good to share with me.
I still remember him telling me that when he first started reading Paul’s letters he wasn’t sure he really liked the guy, but through the years he has come to love him and his teachings. This helped me when I began to read through the New Testament myself. My father is a very wise man and it can be directly attributed to his time spent in God’s Word.
My mother had her own spot to read the Bible and that was usually on the couch in the living room, also with coffee in hand. She was not an early riser and at times was still in her pajamas with wild hair. I can picture her very easily and I love the thought of her that way. She would often be taking notes and sometimes would even have tears in her eyes. She spent real time with God.
I am blessed to have been able to have these examples in my life. My encouragement for you today is to be that example to your children in their life. Let them catch you reading the Bible. Let them see you absorbing wisdom from God. When they come near, share a bit of wisdom with them. Talk about how much you love the Word of God and let them see it in your actions. In Deuteronomy 6:6-9 it states:
And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
In order to get caught in the act, you need to be reading your Bible often. It has to be a priority in your life and in your home. If your children grasp the value of reading God’s Word it will change their lives for eternity. Be the instrument of this teaching; let it saturate how your family lives together. Make the Word of God is as prevalent in your home as the verses above command.
I’m in a bad mood. I have a nasty cold and my energy is gone. I have a “to do” list the length of my arm and no will power to get it completed. My house is a mess and I have visitors coming the day after tomorrow. My laundry is only half done and I need to go grocery shopping. Its days like this I start to feel down; the weight is too much and I don’t feel qualified for the job of life. I want to crawl into bed and fall asleep so I can ignore the world for a little while longer. Honestly, I use this strategy occasionally and the fact is, that darn world and all its problems are still there when I wake up.
So today, instead of the cowardly route, I grab the Word of God desperately needing some encouragement. I feel led to the book of Hebrews and leaf through it until I find what I am looking for:
“…he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’” Hebrews 13:5b-6
“The Lord is my helper”… help… that’s just what I need! I repeat the verse over and over to myself feeling tears well up in my eyes and I ask for help. I pray that God will help me to accomplish what needs to get done this day and that I leave the rest alone. I pray that he will give me the strength I lack. This is the verse I take with me wherever I go for this day. From these words of God, I draw my strength.
Make sure you are not confused; God doesn’t call himself a helper because he is weak and we are in charge. The exact opposite is true. He is our helper because we are so needy and cannot accomplish anything without him. We are the weak ones and we have to learn to fully rely on our Creator to sustain us. God is the everlasting well of strength that we draw from. It says in Colossians 1:11:
“May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.”
We are strengthened according to his glorious might for all endurance! Wow, is that what I need or what? Yes, please. When I belong to Christ, I can receive strength from the well of his might which is endless; and it is freely given. Oh, the gifts God gives us are incredible! Help is one of them. I can’t imagine a better helper in life than God himself who has all power at his disposal and infinite control of everything.
We on our own are empty and frail; we have no well to draw from. That is why so many of us walk around broken, weak and dried up. We try to live life on our own strength and eventually we burn out and crumble to pieces. As Christians we are called to live differently, we are called to draw from the source of Christ. God tells us in John 15:5 “apart from me you can do nothing.” Today I feel the truth of that statement. I need God to help me.
Are you in need of help today too? Read these verses for yourself and call out to God to claim this promise for yourself. Allow him to be your helper and draw from his deep well of strength. Then give thanks in joy as the second half of the verse from Colossians tell us. Carry on in Christ!