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Helping fellow neighbors follow their nose

Rev. Dr. Roy Backus
Rev. Dr. Roy Backus

“Well that just stinks!” 

Yep, that’s the truth about a lot of things in life. 

We’re caught off guard by friends who do really mean things. It seems that our political process breaks down on all sides. 

People don’t keep their promises. Many loved ones and friends get terrible diseases when they’re too young. Terrible accidents occur and an impaired driver takes the lives of innocent people. 

The list can go on, and on, and on, and on. ... Life does have its downside, which really stinks. Really stinks.

On the other hand, when I was growing up in West Texas, the ultimate compliment a young man could give a young lady, was, “Gosh, you stink pretty.” 

You see, there are pleasant smells too. Walking in the house to a meal being cooked, that’s a good stink. 

The crisp, cool morning of early spring, that’s a good stink too. How about the fresh air after a cleansing rain, or newly sawed wood, or the interior of a new car, or freshly dried clothes, or simply being home again. 

There are good stinks, or should I say, pleasant odors.

The Apostle Paul understood our sense of smell in more than a literal way. In his second letter to the struggling church in Colossae he writes, “... thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads in every place the fragrance that comes from knowing him. 

“For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.” (2 Corinthians 2:14–16)  

Paul knew, that the lives of Christians directly impact the lives of folks around us. This world can smell us. 

We have a certain smell about ourselves that is pleasant to some, and to others simply stinks. You see, odors let us know what’s happening around us. 

We are brought to an awareness and action. We are either pleased and attracted by the smell, or we are repulsed and do something about it. Paul knew this. 

Often his life was difficult, simply because he didn’t smell right to some folks.  His message was counter-cultural and in the face of the norms of his day and time.

My prayer, my hope is that we Christians become aware that we do have influence in our society. How we live makes a tremendous difference in the air quality around us – that is the air of humanity, caring, loving, putting those in need first, caring for the homeless and ill, visiting those in trouble and a number of other unpopular attitudes in our day and time. 

We can expect some to not be drawn to the cares and needs of neighbors, and even strangers, whom we are called to love and support. In a society which possesses a main thrust of, “What’s in it for me,” we need to stink even more to call folks’ attention and attraction or caring action. 

As one friend put it many years ago, “Lord, help us be stinkier, so others might know that something is really going on!” 

May we all be honest enough to our God, and to our neighbors, to simply stink a little or a whole lot, for the right reasons. May we bring a sincere, loving example in our present confusing, misdirected and mixed-up times. 

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