July 23, 2018
“YOU SMELL FUNNY”
What do you smell like?
One of my favorite parts about being a foster parent is getting to experience a similar stage of life with multiple little ones. The differences are striking! Yes, a baby is a baby, a toddler is still a toddler, but…they’re all just a little bit different. Their personalities. Their smiles. Their cries. Their smells. No, that’s not a typo. Like the rest of us, our little ones have distinct smells.
The array of scents may be cute when we’re talking about sniffing babies. Not so cute when we’re talking about walking unsuspectingly past our 12-year-old son’s room with the door left open. Wow! Send help! And deodorant.
But on to us. What do you smell like?
We all have that friend. No, not that one. That one. The one that smells really good. We may also have a few that smell…not so really good. What’s the difference? Intentionality. It’s not about a specific choice in cologne, body spray, or soap. It’s intentionality. Intentionally going out of one’s way in deference to others.
Case in point: Fridays. I haven’t had a shower on a Friday in years. Why? Because it’s my day off. As an introvert, undoubtedly recovering from a long week, I make it my goal to not be within 50 feet of another living human. The lack of shower seems to help my cause. Incidentally, my Friday nights are also very lonely, but that’s a different matter for a different day.
Back to us. What do you smell like?
Do you wake up with pristine breath? A perfect musk? Scentless armpits? Oh good, I don’t either. It takes a lot of work putting this whole thing together. The hardest part is doing it all over again the next day. And the next day. And the day after that. It’s an endless battle!
But it’s a war worth waging.
We intentionally tend to our hygiene to remove barriers.
Think about it. You know what I’m talking about. You walk up to someone, engage in conversation, only to be overcome by yesterday’s musk or last night’s garlic mashed potatoes. You do your best to hold steady, but find yourself slowly backing away, eyes watering. A disastrous encounter. Five minutes later, you don’t remember a single thing that was said, but you can still taste it in your mouth.
As helpful as facilitating a conversation on personal hygiene could be, it falls a bit outside of my biblical mandate.
What’s my real point?
In the same way that we’re intentional in our personal hygiene, let’s be just as intentional with our spiritual hygiene.
Live wisely among those who are not yet believers. Making the most of every opportunity. Let your conversations be gracious and attractive. The goal being to bring out the best in others in every conversation, not putting them down, not cutting them up.
Our words matter. Our conversations matter. Our demeanor matters. Not just to unbelievers, but our co-workers are impacted by it, our significant other is impacted by it, and our kids are impacted by it.
On to you. What do you smell like?
You may be the only Jesus that those closest to you experience. Remember, the very name Christian is in reference to this very concept, “Little Christ.”
Wow! No pressure.
Is the Christ you represent a smelly 12-year-old boy? Negative. Condescending. Destructive. Leaving those around you constantly backing up, eyes watering?
Or is the Christ you represent a true reflection of the God we serve? Loving. Kind. Gentle. Peaceful. Honest. Genuine. Leaving those around leaning in, asking what’s different about you?
I love how The Beatitudes read in The Message translation:
You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God.
You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are. No more no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.
You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.
You’re blessed when you care. In those moments of caring you’ll find yourself cared for.
You’re blessed when you get your inside world put right. Your mind and heart. Only then can you see God in the outside world.
You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.
You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.
Back to us. What do we smell like?
It’s a tall order, but I invite you to join me on this endeavor for greater spiritual hygiene. With intentionality, I believe we can remove more of the barriers and be better representatives of Christ.
If you’re up for the challenge, read through the scriptures referenced above every day for the next 21 days. Take a minute to meditate on them and ask God to give you the tools to live them out. In essence, the verses that we’ll read daily in Colossians and in the book of Matthew are becoming our spiritual bars of soap.
Charlie Lane serves on the Creative Team here at Cornerstone. Along with his wife Becky, son Chaz, dog Gibson, a kitty named Nelson, and a whole slew of foster kids, Charlie resides in beach-front community of Lake Elsinore. Yes, he knows to actually not go IN the water, but he’s quick to remind everyone around him that he lives in a beach town.
You can connect with Charlie by following him on Twitter & Instagram, @charlie_lane or by emailing him directly. firstname.lastname@example.org
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