Smell is a big deal in the animal kingdom. It's a big deal in God's kingdom, too. Scent marks our authenticity as Christians.
2 Corinthians 2:14b – Through us [God] spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of [Christ]. (NIV)
What does this mean for you and me? I got thinking of that after hearing a chinchilla rancher explain how she uses perfume on her chinchillas. She said:
- Sometimes a mom-chin rejects her kits after birth. These kits will die unless another mom-chin adopts them quickly. However, other mothers will refuse the orphans because they don't smell like her. This is where my perfume comes in handy. I find a mother-substitute, and then, I put a dab of perfume on her nose. I put the same perfume on the orphaned kits. Now, mom and kits smell alike, and she'll receive them as hers. She'll allow them to nurse and nuzzle her, and to seek her attention.
That's the power of perfume. It can save orphaned chinchillas. In a similar sense, it can save us. Christ is the fragrance dabbed upon us through the miracle of salvation. Our heavenly Father receives all who smell like His Son. He adopts them as His own sons and daughters and grants them all the rights and privileges of legitimate children — all the gifts of His Spirit and grace.
That's the power of perfume. In other words, it's the power of God's Spirit within His children. The fragrance of Christ marks our very identity. It defines who we are.
This aroma is powerful enough to be detected. It smells repugnant to the lost because it means death and judgment to self-rule. It smells sweet to those seeking Christ because it is the aroma of forgiveness and new life.
2 Corinthians 2:14b-16a – Through us [God] spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of [Christ]. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. (NIV)
There's one sense in which God differs from chinchillas: You can trick a chin-mom, but you can't trick God. When there's perfume on her nose, she can't smell herself anymore; so she can't tell that the orphan kits aren't truly hers. But don't try that trick with God! He knows His own scent, and He won't receive those covered merely with imitation perfumes — that is, their own self-designed methods for winning God's favour and being Christian-like.
The only way to keep on emitting the authentic aroma of our Lord is to remain close to Him with a childlike trust. Most assuredly, His aroma will rub onto us, and be an "incomparably great power for us who believe." (Ephesians 1:19a NIV) It is the very power of His resurrection! That's a powerful perfume!
Prayer: Refiner's fire, purify our hearts from all imitation scents — all that is not authentically put upon us through Christ. May we radiate the pure, sweet fragrance of Your Son in ever-increasing measures. Amen.