Editors note: This column original ran Sept. 14, 2012.
One of my fondest memories is the smell of my grandma’s home in Salem, Ore.
Every summer my family would take a road trip to the Oregon coast and then to Grandma’s house.
I remember these trips on occasion when I catch a familiar smell in the air: the salt air, the fish and chips, the unfortunate times when I got carsick and, of course, Grandma’s house itself.
Upon arrival my sister and I would race out of the car, up the front steps and arrive in nasal heaven.
My grandmother made amazing sugar cookies and, without fail, every time we went to her house they were hot out of the oven. Wow!
Most of us would have to agree that the sense of smell is a real gift from God.
However, as a father of four kids, who are now, thankfully, out of the diaper stage, there have been moments when I wished for a head cold.
Almost everything in this world has some kind of smell. Some items have a smell that evolves over time, usually not for the better.
As the official milk-jug smeller in my family, I can safely say not everything gets better with age.
This got me thinking about one of my favorite Bible passages, 2 Corinthians 2:14-16: “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of him in every place.
“For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things?”
It helps to understand the background here to see what Paul is trying to say to Christians.
The picture he paints is of a Roman general returning from battle and marching in a victory processional.
The general would lead the way, followed by his soldiers in a splendid parade.
Interestingly, every Roman general would have his own incense that would burn as he returned from war (not unlike today’s celebrities who all seem to have their own perfume collection).
The general’s incense would be a smell of victory to his soldiers, yet to the newly captured slaves in this group the smell must have been awful. It was to them the smell of defeat and captivity.
Do you call yourself Christian? Have you been saved from your sins by the amazing work of Christ in your life?
Then you have a job to do. Look again at 2 Corinthians 2:15.
We have the responsibility to be the aroma of Christ to this world by living like he did and teaching what he taught.
However, we need to teach all of what he taught, not just the parts we like.
He taught much about love and charity, but he also taught of judgment and the need to confess our sins, and that he is the only way (John 14:6).
A few years ago the biggest Christian fad was the WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) bracelets.
Based on the passages in 2 Corinthians Chapter 2, let me suggest that we as Christians need to start a new fad, one not marked with a thing we wear, but marked by things we do.
Let’s call it SLJC (Smell Like Jesus Christ). We need to live in this world giving off the aroma of Christ.
We need to show people that life does not stink, that there is hope, and they can find it by giving their lives to Jesus.
Don Thayer is pastor of Salida Grace Church.