Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Eau de Parfum of Christ

TODAY'S SPECIAL: 2 Corinthians 2:12-3:11


TO CHEW ON: "Now 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

This Christmas my husband gave me a bottle of perfume—one of my favourite gifts. I loved the fragrance he picked and soon found myself online, researching my new scent and the world of perfume in general. The metaphor of our lives being the perfume of God to the world reminds me of some of the characteristics of perfume I discovered.

  • Commercial perfumes come from a multitude of sources: barks, flowers and blossoms, fruits, roots, seeds, animal glands...
This speaks of how the scent of Christ wafts from many peoples and places.  Individuals of every tribe and nation and from all over the world will be in heaven (Revelation 7:9).

  • A perfume unfolds in stages. Its first impression is called its top or head note. When that fades the middle or heart note becomes prominent. Finally its base note is established, becoming the scent that lingers the longest.
This brings to mind the fact that the perfume of Christ pervades all our interactions from casual to intimate. Its fragrance should be evident in first encounters with people behind us at Starbucks and those we do business with on the phone. It should blossom in our relationships with people who know us better like neighbours, and friends. In fact, it should be the very stamp of our character so that even those we live with—spouse and children—will know its lingering fragrance.

  • The same perfume doesn't smell the same on every person. When perfume molecules come in contact with the unique chemical makeup of our skin, they react and unfold differently.
We can take this as a picture of how the perfume of Christ manifests uniquely through each person's blend of personality, talent and experience. It involves each of us growing the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) and using our spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:1-31). Instead of describing this perfume as floral, spicy, fresh or woodsy, we could name these perfume types merciful, generous, prophetic, wise, faith-filled, instructive.

  • When putting on perfume, the advice is to apply it to pulse points. That's because perfume gets stronger as it's warmed. When our pulse increases due to exertion, excitement, or stress the scent spreads more efficiently.
Does that mean that life's stresses are good for spreading the perfume of Jesus? I think so. If we are full of Him, His scent (or lack of it) will spread more than ever when our lives heat up with trouble.

  • Another tip for perfume application is to spray it into the room and enter its mist in order to be enshrouded by scent.
This reminds us of how important it is to spend time in the perfume—reading and studying God's word, praying, meditating, and spending time with other Christians.

  • Finally, we all know that wearing perfume is forbidden in many places. That's because some people are allergic to perfume scents and actually experience physical dis-ease when in their presence.
2 Corinthians 2:16 reminds us that not everyone will appreciate or welcome the Christ fragrance that we carry. To those who have rejected Him, it is the fragrance of death. It should not surprise us that there are more and more places where sharing the good news about Jesus is forbidden. When we do it anyway, we'll probably get into trouble.

How are we doing as spreaders of the perfume of Jesus? Is this world a sweeter  place because of our presence?


PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to spread Your pure scent, unmixed with notes of selfishness, jealousy, anger, covetousness, lust... Amen.


MORE: Learn more about perfume
For a good introduction to the world of perfumes:

Bible Drive-Thru


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