"the fragrance of Christ"
2 Corinthians 2:15
We narrowly averted a holiday disaster in our house the other day. One of us made a mistake while cooking. It might have been me. Or the Apple of my Eye. Or my Awesome Girl. Or my Amazing Boy. As a Christmas present to the one who made the mistake, none of us are saying. So I'll just say "we" did it.
We were making a microwavable meal, and we forgot one of the steps in the preparation. We hit "go" on the microwave, and then we went back out to the living room to hang with the rest of the family while our meal cooked. But then we walked back into the kitchen, to see smoke pouring out of the microwave. The meal ~ and the plastic ~ were burned to a crisp. Judging by the amount of smoke, and the blackened condition of the contents of the microwave, we think that was as close as we could have come to fire, without actually achieving flames.
We (no, really this time) were very grateful for the timing. We all realized how close we came to a very frightening Christmas catastrophe. While the Apple of my Eye cleaned out the microwave, I went to a local fast food place to pick up lunch, reasoning that no one was going to want to be in the kitchen making their lunch, with the awful, choking smell that lingered.
And still lingers...
It's been several days now. We had all the windows open that first day and night (and it was cold! Well, Southern California cold.) We've been cooking and cleaning and living our lives in the house ever since, and we can still smell it. I tried microwaving a small bowl of vinegar, thinking it would absorb the smell, but it just left the house with a smell of burnt plastic and vinegar... We don't notice it very much when we are in the house, but when we come home from someplace, we are aware of it as soon as we come in the house.
It astounds me how hard ~ well, impossible ~ it has been to rid our home of the smell. I now think that there's nothing we can do; it's just going to take time. It's amazing how a smell can linger. We've all been a car, or an elevator, or other small space, and been able to smell the perfume or cologne of the person that was there before us. Even after the person is gone, the fragrance remains. And that can be good, or bad. It's good if the fragrance is that of someone we love. It can feel like they are still with us. But it's bad if the smell is unpleasant to us, or is so strong it's giving us a headache.
Paul said in his letter to the Corinthians that to God, that believers are the fragrance of Christ. Lingering, remaining, long after Jesus was carried up into heaven. A reminder of the love He taught, and the life He modeled.
To other believers, we are the aroma of life, leading to life, Paul said. Like the smell of your mother's cooking, or your husband's cologne. Pleasant and memorable and lovely. But to those who are not saved, believers are the aroma of death leading to death (2 Corinthians 2:16). Believers are, to non-believers, a reminder of consequences. Just like that burned smell in our house is a reminder of the mistake that was made, and the possibly dire consequences.
It's not about your perfume, or your cologne. It's simply who you are.
~ "thanks be to God who always leads us
in triumph in Christ,
and through us diffuses
the fragrance of His knowledge
in every place" ~
2 Corinthians 2:14