Sunday, March 18, 2012

Stinkin' to high heaven

First of all, this is my 1000th post. Seriously, that's a marker. As Laban would say, it's my pile of rocks stacked between you and me--my 'Mizpah', which is a reference from Genesis 31. "May the Lord keep watch between you and me while we are apart from one another." (Genesis 31:49)

So what do I write to mark such an occasion? What do I say that might distill what I've been saying--for better or worse--for the last almost 4 years?  I've been cogitating on this for the last 100 posts, to be blunt. That's because I've never been very good with math, and when I was approaching 899, I somehow got a little off and forgot a whole hundred. Tells you why even my father didn't press me to become an engineer.

But life has moved at a pace in the last hundred posts and here it is. And here I am, and though this won't necessarily be profound, it's what's on my heart tonight as I sit in my bed with a sleeping dog and Beve beside me.

The other night when E was home, we decided to make Thai curry for dinner. We're big fans of curry around here. While I was cooking the chicken and Beve running to the store for one more can of coconut milk, E took a shower. When she got out, she came into the kitchen and said, "It sure smells good in here."
"It's only chicken," I told her. "And the vegetables. I haven't even started the curry yet."
"Well, it still smells good."
I was surprised by that.  When E was a little girl, she didn't like chicken. We made our children take 'no-thank-you helpings', and made them eat the same number of bites as their age when they really balked. There were many, many meals of 'no-thank-you helpings' of chicken for E back then.  In fact, she'd come into the house with that freshly cut grass smell on her pink cheeks from having spent the afternoon outside, and just the aroma made her know what was coming.

Aromas do that. The smell of mayonnaise alone can make me gag. About a month ago, the huge Costco jar of mayonnaise somehow fell when J was trying to put it into the refrigerator, and he instantly yelled, "Don't come in here, Mom." Unfortunately, I misheard him, thought he was asking me to come, and ran--until the sight and smell caught up with me at the same time.  It was horrible. He cleaned it thoroughly, but I probably smelled that mayo for a good week. And got out the mop again every time!

We have strong reactions to aromas. It usually isn't the thing itself but our reaction which determines whether that aroma is good or bad. Life or death, we might say (except for skunks, one could make the case, but let's not press the analogy, okay?).

2 Corinthians 2: 14-16 says this:
Thanks be to God who always leads us as captives in Christ's triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of Him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To one we are an aroma of that brings death, to the other, an aroma that brings life.

Several observations about these verses--
1. We are captives in Christ's procession.  Paul alternately speaks of us as freed from sin and slaves to righteousness. Those two things are, in fact, part of the progression or journey of faith. We were slaves to the one, became His, are freed from that so become slaves to the other. That is, we aren't simply freed from sin to be licentious. We are freed to be holy. And wholly His. Here, however, our servanthood actually takes on a whole new dimension. It's counter-cultural to think of being captives, but we are HIS captives, the Kingdom's serfs, if you like that terminology better. We belong to Him, are here to do His bidding, rather than our own.  And that bidding is
2. To be used by Him to spread merely the knowledge, like it's a matter of mind alone, like we can reason others into the Kingdom or argue them there. But we are the very fragrance by which others will know them. This means that in every aspect of our lives--word, action, refusal to act--we stink of Him to those around us.
3. Those around us will not necessarily respond favorably to that aroma. It is God who is pleased by our stink. We stink to high heaven, and to Him alone. To the world, the stench may actually be unpalatable. A W Tozer once said that Christianity causes a revival or a rebellion. People will react strongly to the stench of our lives, but that's because to them--we carry the aroma of their own death. That's what they react to--if we're living fragrantly to Heaven.  And fragrantly to each other, I suppose.
4.  The choice is not ours.  That is, our responsibility to be fragrant to God, and what that causes in others is up to them. It's in their noses, so to speak.  What we must do is testify--with everything we are--about who He is. As captives in His triumphal procession in on this earth, as long as we are on it.  He will use us.

That's all there is.
Stinkin' to High heaven. Who knew it was the very best thing we could ever want to be?

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