It is amazing to me that sensory experiences are so strong. Scientists describe it as odor memory, that is, our ability to remember the scent and the memory connected to the scent. In fact, they have found that only two synapses separate the olfactory nerve from the amygdala, that part of the brain where we experience emotions. That explains why these aromas from childhood form such a strong connection for me ~ like a time and date stamp ~ they connect me not only to Mom’s delicious cooking but the deeper emotion of family dinners together..
So it comes as no surprise that God would chose the metaphor of aroma when he talks about how we live our lives. Paul writes in Ephesians 5:1-2 that when we live a life of love, our very lives become an offering, a fragrant sacrifice to God.
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.This metaphor of aroma is both powerful and personal to me. When our sixteen year old son died, I wrestled with questions of meaning and purpose. Why would a loving God allow this tragedy? What benefit could come from the death of my son? How could this tragedy bring God glory?
I distinctly remember the day I read Paul’s words in II Corinthians 2. Paul writes that our lives can also be an aroma of Christ’s glory to those who seek him.
But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. 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.I realized that it was not Scott’s death that would bring God glory. It was my response to Scott’s death that had the power to be an aroma of Christ's glory and eternal life.
I firmly believe that Satan intended to gain a victory through Scott’s death; that this loss would destroy our family's hope in the promises of God. Yes, we felt broken and confused. Yes, we struggled to redefine our theology on a daily basis as we sought to understand this tremendous loss through God’s perfect will. But in time, with God’s grace and mercy, we are being transformed not destroyed by this loss.
Perhaps theologian John Piper expresses my thoughts more clearly in his book, God is the Gospel.
The supreme value of the glory of Christ revealed in the gospel is what makes Satan so furious with the gospel. Satan is not mainly interested in causing us misery. He is mainly interested in making Christ look bad. He hates Christ. And he hates the glory of Christ. He will do all he can to keep people from seeing Christ as glorious. The gospel is God’s instrument for liberating people from exulting in self to exulting in Christ. Therefore Satan hates the gospel.The events of this fallen world are real. Divorce, the death of a loved one, a rebellious child, upside-down mortgages, economic hardships, layoffs . . . the list goes on. These are painful, gut-wrenching situations. Each one has the potential to destroy us. But I believe we have a choice in every situation ~ to be destroyed or transformed. The choice is ours ~ to be an aroma of Christ’s glory to those who are being saved and those who are perishing. Will we be a fragrance of death and destruction, or a fragrance of life and transformation?
Oh, may the aroma of Christ's glory pour out of me.