The lilacs are blooming, albeit late this year. Usually around Mother’s Day, I treat myself to a few clippings from the bush in the front garden and place them on my dining room table. A cold and wet spring has meant that they are only just blooming now. The day they were open enough, I clipped several stems, eager to have that distinct aroma fill our home. I also try to keep the window closest to the garden open to allow any extra scent into the living room.
I want the effect to be subtle, not overwhelming. Even the most pleasant smells should be enjoyed in moderation, lest we despise them. If my home smelled like a lilac were shoved in my face, I would be turned off the scent.
As Christians, we are called to something similar:
For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:15-17 ESV).
But what is the aroma of Christ? The phrase “a pleasing aroma” is found many times in the Old Testament, generally in reference to a sacrifice that God was pleased with. Paul emphasizes that point in the New Testament when he tells us to “walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:2 ESV).
The aroma of Christ, then, is achieved by living a life of love and sacrifice. This is counter to the world’s way of living and its mantra of “self care” above all. Romans 12:1 instructs us to present our lives as a living sacrifice – serving our families, friends and neighbors as Christ did.
We are not perfect, but our lives should point to the One who is. When you walk into a room and smell flowers, you look for the source of the scent. Our Christian lives should point others to the source of our ability to love and serve others.
Let us not forget the warning of 2 Corinthians 2:17. Our Christianity should not be wholly composed of spouting Bible verses as we see fit, wielding God’s word as a weapon. No one looks for lilacs when you’ve sprayed your home with an air freshener. We must sincerely live out the verses we cling to, leaning on Jesus as we do so.
May our homes give the fragrance of Christ, just as mine shares the aroma of lilacs for a short while. May we encourage believers, and point unbelievers to Jesus, our great High Priest.