The Smell You Can’t Smell

Watermark Church - Dallas, Texas

Watermark Church (click to zoom)

A handful of us from Central visited six churches in Dallas last week. We were researching building ideas for the next worship center at our Gilbert campus. Two of these churches stood out to me. One of them, who will remain nameless, left us with a very bad impression. As we walked into their worship center, the aroma of mustiness washed over us. The damp air weighted upon us with a heavy thickness. My mind flashed back to my junior high locker room. Our guide, an executive member of their church staff, proudly showed us around. While we each stole glances of shock from one another, it was apparent our guide didn’t smell anything. That’s because he was used to it. It was normal. To an outside guest however, nothing was normal about that smell. Earlier that day we toured another church building. The church was Watermark and featured a cutting-edge design with wood panels all around the walls. This produced a rich smell that brought a feeling of a cabin in the woods or that moment you open a fine humidor of cigars. While we each glanced at the members of our group a pleasant look of surprise stole over our faces. And again, it was apparent our guide didn’t smell anything. Watermark Church WallThat’s because he was used to it. It was normal. To an outside guest however, that smell was an unexpected treat which dramatically enhanced our experience. We later commented on how different these two smells were from one another but how in both cases the smell was invisible to our host. We are immune to our normal. But that doesn’t mean others are immune to it. We each give off a “smell” every time we interact with another person. The less they know us the more they “smell” it. This shapes the way we talk about God or the type of person we portray ourselves to be. The apostle Paul wrote about this idea to the church in Corinth.
But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. 2 Corinthians 2:14-16a
The question for each of us to consider is what type of smell we give off to others. I’m not talking about your deodorant of choice or your favorite cologne or perfume. Rather, what is the lingering impression others get from you? What do they conclude about your faith? It’s impossible to determine this yourself. We learn it when we show the vulnerability and humility to genuinely listen to others around us. To listen to feedback we don’t want to hear. If we are willing, our friends will tell us which smell we bring. Paul teaches us to spiritually bring the pleasing aroma of Christ. But that aroma should also affect our leadership, our friendships, our coworkers, our families, and the countless strangers whom we cross paths with daily. The smell you can’t smell shapes the way people react to you. Do you know what it is?

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Jeremy Jernigan

Speaker | Author | Founder of Communion Wine Co.