This past week we finally visited Pannonhalma as a family. Only about 20 minutes
from where we live, this ancient monastery (originally founded in 996) is still fairly simple. Located in a quiet city of only about 4,000 residents, it is definitely worth a drive. One of the many elements this area boasts is the fields of Lavender, which are just now leaving the full blooming season. As we came to the bottom of some hiking trails, emerging from the forests – the smell was immediate and inviting. Our bodies were wondering if it was naptime?
One of the things we noted (which was noted on the explanations we read as well) was how peaceful and calming it must be to work in such an environment. To spend all day at work, inhaling the very oil which so many people in the world turn to when they want to be set free from stress, relax their mind and body, and breathe slow. Unfortunately, as Duke University reminded us several years ago – not everyone appreciates odors with the same enjoyment. I wondered if there have been people who sign up to help, only to discover the world-famous oils here actually make them want to gag just a bit.
It’s not too different from the truth we discover in scripture. Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 2 that we are (on behalf of God) “a fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.” But he’s also honest in the next verse – to those who reject Christ we are an aroma of death. People who would rather smell wealth, prosperity, or self-fulfillment gospels that have very little to do with Jesus – cringe at what Jesus implies. Last week, our church family in Gyor examined the “Good Samaritan” together. We don’t ultimately know how the “expert in the law” responded to the truth Jesus revealed. I pray his heart was softened. But we can imagine his original upturned nose at the stench of Jesus offering God’s Love in transformational ways as He traveled toward Jerusalem…even to those Samaritan neighbors.
It’s hard for us to imagine – if we’ve been transformed by such love ourselves. How could anyone find the aroma of God’s Love as revealed in Jesus Christ to be an offensive odor? Paul closes this section with a word to make us bold:
“Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.” (2 Cor. 2:17)
Love as Jesus loved/loves. No matter how such love smells to others.