But thanks be to God, who always leads us in His triumph in Christ, and manifest through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; from one an aroma of death to death, to the other an aroma of life to life. And who is adequate for these things? (2 Corinthians 2:14-16)

When we moved here, an Oxford [Mississippi] friend gave us a needed, new, wooden garbage container. It was beautiful on the outside, and it smelled like pine. For 12 years we have used the gift for its intended purpose—it holds a lot of garbage! Sometimes we have to “air it out” and spray it because it smells like garbage. It stopped smelling like pine long ago. Now, when we can smell garbage, it is time to attack the odor. It is still made of pine, but now it commonly smells like what is inside.

The word “Christian” is rare in the New Testament. It occurs twice in the singular form, and once in the plural form (in the NASV). Jewish people often referred to those we call “Christian” as “the Way.” New Testament writers often used the gentile designation: holy ones or saints. Gentiles who followed the resurrected Jesus were sanctified through Him and lived differently because of Him. They were the “Christ followers.”

There was a period in our Southern culture when the word “Christian” referred to many things—from bookstores to plumbers. The inference: if Christian appeared in the name, people who were Christians should give special attention to the enterprise.

Now “Christian” seems to be associated with habits. “They don’t do that.” Explanation: “He (or she) is a Christian,” or, “The person goes to church.” In the minds of many non-Christians, Christian habits seem to be associated with don’ts or church attendance. If, to non-religious people, a weird behavior is “Christian,” that is a full explanation of the unusual conduct.

Who knows all the definitions people who are not Christians have of “Christian”? I have heard some pretty wild ideas associated with “Christian.” (Did you know “Christians” do not eat wild meat?) I have wondered about the origin of the “extreme concepts” of “Christian.” Those concepts range from pitiful ignorance to unbelievable inconsistency. Often those ideas are held so firmly that words or affirmations will not and cannot change the incorrect definitions or concepts associated with “Christian.”

If you are a Christian, do you understand what basic misconceptions of “Christian” often mean? When words or affirmations do not challenge misconceptions, examples must challenge wrong concepts. When words are ignored, genuine examples are noted. A person who never listens to words often considers examples. Never has it been more important to live it because you believe it and are committed to it.

When someone is near, what do you “smell” like? You “smell” like what is within!

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 19 February 2009

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