The Smell of Jesus

by DanWolgemuth on May 17, 2013

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… (2 Corinthians 2:14-16, ESV)

What does Jesus smell like?   

I completely missed this one.  I had a vision of the fragrance counter at the front of Macy’s department store in mind.  Even now I can transport myself to the sensory overload that provides a right hook to my nasal cavity when I make my way into the store.  There is little that is authentic or natural about these smells.  They collide at an intersection without stop signs.  Frankly, there is little that is appealing at first sniff.

Do they smell like Jesus?  Is this what the Holy Spirit had in mind when He inspired Paul to write these words?  I don’t think so.

Wednesday morning in a tough urban neighborhood on the east side of Indianapolis I smelled Jesus.  There were no fragrance counters and no employees in white “lab coats.”  This was a warehouse that had been converted to an auto repair garage.  It’s a place where two lift stations raise both automobiles and dreams so that local young people can learn a trade.  It’s at the YFC Wheels City Life Center that kids from the community learn about carburetors and grace.  It’s a place where the students hear about AC Delco parts and the unrelenting love of Jesus. 

It was in that garage that I smelled Jesus… and the aroma was more like motor oil and grease than Chanel No. 5.   

It was real and authentic and connected to the promise of dignity, relationship and transformation.  The smell of Jesus was vibrant and compelling and powerful.  It wasn’t intended to cover up or mask something less appealing. 

Jesus smelled beautiful and as I breathed deeply the scent washed over my theology. 

One-quart cans replaced finely designed bottles with fractions of ounces in them and our staff wore the grease-ready garments that invited interaction and learning and mentoring and miracles.   

In a small garage on the east side of downtown Indianapolis I smelled Jesus, and there wasn’t a mall in sight.   

A fragrance from life to life…

What a beautiful smell.

To the hungry He smells like homemade bread.
To the captive He smells like mountain air.
To the lonely and isolated He smells like a birthday party.
To the defenseless He smells like victory.
To the prisoner He smells like mercy.
To the arrogant He smells offensive.
To the lost He smells like a shepherd.
To the abused He smells like justice.
To the discarded and rejected He smells like Braveheart.
…and to the kids on the east side of Indy He smells like Quaker State 10W40.

 Jesus.  The beautiful smell of hope.

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