Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The smell of life or death

Sunday afternoons in a large church in the south of Sao Paulo, unbelievable miracles occur on a regular basis. It’s the addiction deliverance meeting, and every week people are called forward who want to quit their addictions and place whatever drugs they have on them in baskets on the altar: cocaine, heroine, crack, marijuana, crack pipes, bottles of alcohol, cigarettes and whatever else has enslaved them. A couple badly addicted people are always chosen out of the group and called up on the altar to tell the group what their addiction is and how it has destroyed their lives… then Bishop Roger picks out the drug that they are addicted to from the baskets and has them smell it. Some start to shake with desire to smoke or snort the drug. For all of them, the smell is attractive, and they are willing to trade all the money in their wallet, their phones, even their shirts and shoes for that drug. After a strong prayer is made for each one, they are asked to smell the same drug they smelled a few minutes ago and the large majority start gagging with nausea. They can no longer stand the smell of the drug, they feel repulsed by the smell to the point of wanting to vomit. The urge that had controlled them for years isn’t just controlled, it’s totally gone and replaced with a hatred for that drug.  

To those who are dying, the smell of destruction, addictions, immorality and greed among many other evils, is deliciously desirable. Those who cling to the spirits of this world, are automatically drawn to the same spirits in others. But place those same people in the presence of true Christians and they’ll want to bolt out the door. God says that we have a sweet aroma to those who are searching for God, but for those who love their sinful lifestyle, we smell like death. 

Don’t be surprised when people who don’t even know you reject you. It’s the fragrance of true life that they don’t want. Funny how even churchgoers can react the same way as total unbelievers when they come across us. Handing out flyers in the YMCA in Texas created the most bizarre responses from church ladies who were highly offended that we would assume they struggled with negativity. Why the offense at a simple piece of paper?  Because the spirit of what we were doing was like the smell of death to their hard hearts.  

On the same token, those who are true believers are never comfortable in the company of those who aren’t, only if it’s to help them find the truth. But our close friends and confidants share in the same aroma of sincere and active faith, a hatred for evil and no tolerance for hypocrisy. People may accuse you of being too extreme, but it’s the nature of the Spirit of God inside of you. How can light have fellowship with darkness? We’re on display for God’s purposes, to spread His fragrance to draw whoever is humble towards the Spirit within us. 

But thanks be to God, who always puts us on display in Christ and through us spreads the aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For to God we are the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To some we are an aroma of death leading to death, but to others, an aroma of life leading to life. And who is competent for this? For we are not like the many who market God’s message for profit. On the contrary, we speak with sincerity in Christ, as from God and before God.  (2 Corinthians 2:14-17 HCSB)

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