Consider the nose. That protuberance from the middle of one’s face housing ventilation called nostrils, which admit and exhale the air we breathe bringing oxygen and life into our respiratory system. This fixture of prominence contains specialized cells responsible for smelling, while the hairs within serve as a filtration system against large foreign particles entering our bodies. We wouldn’t often have this thought, but now consider that human beings are made in the image of God. Would this be God in heaven, the creator of the universe? Or would this be God incarnate, Jesus Christ, who according to Paul is the fullness of God expressed in human form? God is described in the Old Testament as having the ability to smell. We see this over and over as the Israelites offered sacrifices according to God’s own instruction, these fire consumed animals became a “pleasing aroma to the Lord.”
Recently my wife and I had some remodeling done in our house, and the finishing process for our new shower included a heavy sealant be placed on the surface and allowed to dry and cure for 24-48 hours. This was definitely not a pleasing aroma but rather a horrible stench, a malevolent odor that was so strong we had to vacant our dwelling overnight. But this event caused me to think about the nose and smells or odors and how they affect us today.
When someone is grilling food next door, does your mouth begin to salivate? Does your mind envision steaks or chicken or shrimp or fish or vegetables, which when cooked on the grill have such a unique and pleasing aroma and taste? Every time this happens to me I want to light up the fire and cook something! Now compare that to when your nose is confronted by that foul stench of something rotten and putrid. Does it make you want to fire up the grill, or does it make you want to vomit?
Consider how God’s olfactory system is affected by his creatures on earth, made in His image. When our lives are filled with discord and despair, or when we rebelliously raise our fists toward His own benevolent care, or in disobedience go against His will and cease to bring Him glory. I suggest that God has the same response we do; it makes Him sick. It makes Him want to vomit.
On the other hand, when our lives are filled with praise for what He has done, when we act in accordance with His sovereign will, when we allow the grace of Jesus Christ to transform us into the very glory of our Creator—these actions are like a heavenly pleasing aroma, the sweetest fragrance known to God, and it makes Him want to bless us more.
The apostle Paul says, “And walk in love, as the Messiah also loved us and gave Himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.” (Ephesians 5:2)
Jim Wilkins is the Pastor of Fellowship at the Ranch. We meet each Sunday morning at 10:30 a.m. in the clubhouse.