Have you noticed that when people around you are trying too hard, it makes everything about them feel exhausting? Or perhaps you’ve gotten a whiff of the scent on yourself- the scent of someone overburdened, overbearing, and just downright stressful.
Odds are, if you’re exhausted, you’re exhausting. If we are trying to run the rat race of this world, we’re going to smell like the world, and that is not a good thing. The world smells like anxiety, performance, money-obsession, sexual perversion, identity confusion… the list goes on and on. In my mind, it smells a lot like Abercrombie and Fitch perfume. It’s not even good in small doses, and it will get stuck on you unless you move at hyper-speed exactly in the opposite direction. Counter-culturally.
If you’re heading in the exact opposite direction of the world, odds are, you’ll find Christ. Rather, He’ll find you and make you His own. If you bear Christ, if He lives in you and you live for Him, you carry the light of the world, living water, the bread of life, and the kingdom come. What does that smell like? Heaven, that’s what. And it’s irresistible and undeniable and it’s going to last forever. Most importantly, it’s a pleasing scent to God. He loves to smell Jesus on His people.
The Pharisees were smelly. They claimed that they wanted to smell like God, but when Jesus came, they had no idea they were looking at Him. Instead, they tried to tell JESUS what to do (yikes!), and how to act appropriately (seriously!?), and were so sure that he was getting it wrong that they wanted him killed. (Let’s just say the ending to that one didn’t go quite as they had hoped… 😉 )
Newsflash, people. Jesus doesn’t get God wrong. People get God wrong. The Pharisees had their heads so far up their religious booties, were so busy putting burdens on others and commanding that they live life by the rules a-la-Pharisee, that they didn’t know the Genuine Article when it walked among them in sandals.
The Pharisees exhausted Jesus. They smelled like striving and religiosity. Jesus had little patience for them. In fact, if you didn’t think Jesus was radical, wait until you hear this.
Jesus said this right to the faces of the Pharisees, considered the “religious elite” of their day:
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean!”
– Matthew 23:27
As my husband Wade would say, “BOO YAH SHAKA.” Jesus knew better than anyone that their shiny exteriors were only a distraction from the rot and death inside. The Pharisees were calling people to an outward change of appearances, to “look good” to God, when their souls needed a complete overhaul. Jesus is essentially saying, a wedding dress on a dead body isn’t enough to turn a funeral into a wedding, and no matter how many decorations you put up, it still smells like decay up in here.
God knows our innards, and He is not fooled.
Let’s not be like the Pharisees and miss Jesus when He’s standing right in front of us with the truth of grace. Let’s not claim we know the best way to change ourselves (don’t know if you’ve picked up on this, but you CAN’T change yourself, hence Jesus…) by striving and smelling up the world with yuck. Unlike the Pharisees, and like the gospel writers, may we learn to follow Jesus and what He wants from us not out of fear, but out of love for the One who gave us everything. He wants us to bear His image in the world, and be the hope of glory, walking. Put Him on daily, knowing that Jesus is not just a nice cover-up for our strivings. He’s not Febreeze or Secret or Degree. He doesn’t fade after a few washes. He’s a revolution.
Jesus changes your glands.
If you’re secure in the love of Jesus, others won’t be picking up on the scent of striving because it just won’t be there. You can rest and relax in His love, which gives you grace for yourself and others. If you’re covered by Jesus, you’re a new creation, and if you’re a new creation, you’re bound to smell like Life itself.
So, I hope you smell Him on me, and I hope it’s a bit too strong for the world to handle. I hope I smell it on you, and that we give our lives to make the world a more fragrant place to God Himself.
Get out there and smell like Him, He who bore the stains of our sins so that we could bear the Light of the World.