Glenn W. Harrell
PERFUME OF CHRIST Worship—“God also helps us spread the knowledge about Christ everywhere, and this knowledge is like the smell of perfume. In fact, God thinks of us as a perfume that brings Christ to everyone.
For people who are being saved, this perfume has a sweet smell and leads them to a better life. But for people who are lost, it has a bad smell and leads to a horrible death.” (II Corinthians 2:14-16 CEV)
How about that. The world can smell us and it isn’t pretty. But, when the body of Christ is together or when we meet on the street, we smell each other for the perfume that we are. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t any stinkers among us or that I always act, speak and walk as I am called and prepared to do. None of us earned this smell by being goody-two-shoes. This sweet odor of Grace was not self-applied. Somehow, God just did it. And He does it for his reasons, not ours.
A few reasons are here given to us: (from II Corinthians 2:14-16)
1-He helps us to spread the knowledge about Christ, everywhere.
2-We bring Christ to everyone we meet. We are the set apart and sent out people. As we go about our day, we carry that fragrance.
3-The one fragrance has two odors. One sweet and one of death.
4-Those being saved know sweetness. It leads us to a better life. “Better” is relative to a life without Christ, not without trouble.
And it is not better than others mind you, but better off than the many who reject Christ and live without Him.
5-He leads the lost to himself. The bad smell he produces through us to them can be explained here:
“In the past you were dead because you sinned and fought against God. You followed the ways of this world and obeyed the devil.
He rules the world, and his spirit has power over everyone who doesn’t obey God. Once we were also ruled by the selfish desires of our bodies and minds. We had made God angry, and we were going to be punished like everyone else. But God was merciful!
We were dead because of our sins, but God loved us so much that he made us alive with Christ, and God’s wonderful kindness is what saves you. God raised us from death to life with Christ Jesus, and he has given us a place beside Christ in heaven. God did this so that in the future world he could show how truly good and kind he is to us because of what Christ Jesus has done. You were saved by faith in God, who treats us much better than we deserve. This is God’s gift to you, and not anything you have done on your own.
It isn’t something you have earned, so there is nothing you can brag about. God planned for us to do good things and to live as he has always wanted us to live. That’s why he sent Christ to make us what we are.” (Ephesians 2:1-10)
TEN WORKS OF GOD ON OUR BEHALF THAT CREATE OUR NEW ODOR
1-The devil has a rule in this world and a power over the sons of disobedience.
2-Before we receive Christ, we follow this path and we were ruled by our selfish desires of body and mind.
3-God’s anger and punishment awaited us.
4-We had our own resurrection–from death to life in Christ
5-We are given a place in heaven that reflects God’s goodness and kindness through Christ.
6-We are treated better than we deserve. We deserve death if God judges us with justice and not grace.
7-We are, were and will be saved by faith in Christ as a sole-substitute for our sin/sins, not good works or good-deeds of any kind.
8-If we could “earn” our way to God, we would be braggards, comparing our self-righteousness with others. And, if we can earn it, we can lose it!
9-Good deeds are planned for us by God, and they follow salvation, not cause it.
10-Christ makes us what we are. Rejoice in this.
Some other worship odor options as of late include:
GLADE Worship–When we plug in the freshener or spray it into the room as a substitute for cleaning up the source of odor.
Our public worship gatherings need a clean and transparent Spirit, not topical masking; not covering our feigned attempts at connecting with God through dead rituals, musical theater and garage band with a twist of American Idol thrown in.
LYSOL Worship—This is when the fruit inspectors take over and pretend to sanitize everyone, killing their germs for them.
Legalism kills everything in its path. Including the potential for grace in worship.
We must be free to be human without excusing sin or glorifying it.
NEW CAR SMELL Worship–Just hang a few of these on the mirror for that sense that all is well in the world. Always be promoting the newest, latest and greatest as to how God must do His way and will among us. Buy into every gimmick and discourage any history of worship as associated with music any further back than your birth date. And by all means, do not allow Scripture to be the Word of God, read, and revered as a crown jewel within each service. (I Timothy 4:13)
Make it about pop music, powerful personalities and perfect performances instead.
CK “OBSESSION” Worship— Stick with the perfumes of the world if you want to attract them–right?
The “Can’t be modern enough” production church of today wants to be like the world, so it wears their perfume, thus masking (not eliminating) its own God given bad smell to the world. It so hates to be unpopular and so loves the limelight.
They have a pop band. We have a pop band. They have awards. We have awards. I might believe this to be the real deal except our copy-cat ways are cheap to the world. If we were reaching people without Christ by speaking their language I might think there to be something to it. But we convert ourselves into performance halls with audiences instead of remaining biblically centered worship centers with congregants. The more like the world we become, the less interested the world is in hanging out with the pretenders.
Our obsessions with “Obsession” demonstrates many of us want to put on a show, not promote a Savior.
This may well be why so many Churches of America are in decline, dying or already dead, having closed their doors. (4,000 closing each year) Faulty obsessions with worldly odors. The irony is that as these churches close their doors, so many of these wonderful buildings established for Christian worship are now sold off to become Performance Halls to sell music and drama.
The world we copy knows itself to be fake, even if we don’t. When they reach the end of their ways and need a real Christ, they will look for a congregation that is quite the opposite of the shallow, empty world of their existence. Sadly, such a church is harder and harder to find.
BACK IN THE DAY Worship—This church is stuck in its rut of yesteryear. The worship of comfort, familiarity and ritual have taken over the masses. Such churches are in a persistent danger of becoming just another community clubhouse with dues and “our favorite people”.
As we become middle aged, our “broad mind and our narrow waist seems to change places”. As we grow older, we tend to cling more, not less, to our favorite songs, furnishings, style and order of worship. Our security is in sameness. This is a natural tendency and not necessarily a bad one. It becomes a bad sign if and when God wants to add something to, or change anything about his church and He then is required to get the permission of 3 committees, fill out a form in triplicate, survive Roberts Rules of Order, and risk alienating himself from the whole stubborn lot of us.
Does your church smell musty and old? If so, the back-in the-day church will form a stench committee to locate the smell. 3 bids must be obtained by the properties committee. After going to council for further review, the by-laws committee must assure that Mr. Roberts approves of the action and every step is taken for accuracy. After the finance committee finishes their work of 3 months, 6 months have now passed and the church body has its turn. Bid # 2 is deemed the best by 63 percent of the congregation, but Bid #2 is from a church member who promises to donate monies back to the church. Stench #2 becomes so overwhelming that the original stench is forgotten and the church splits. Buzzards circle the dead carcass before having their feast.
REJOICE IN HEAVEN Worship— “Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost!’ In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:8-10)
A clean house smells good! A return to worship of this variety is risky, if not a stink maker.
A Return to Worship–SIGNS OF SPIRIT AND TRUTH WORSHIP IN A CHURCH
Warren Wiersbe, in his book “Real Worship” writes,
“A return to worship can be a threat to the church musician who would rather perform than minister, and who has no intention of bringing his week-day life into line with his Sunday profession…to the preacher who enjoys being important and playing God in the lives of his people. Or to the preacher who is a good platform man and can keep things moving so that his congregation is interested and entertained….to the church member who does not want to be disturbed—He is getting by—and that is all that counts.”
Are there any among us like the woman who searched for the one lost coin? Who will release the clamor, showmanship, noise of business as usual today or a clinging to yesteryear? Maybe we, like her, need to call together our friends and neighbors? We need to hear the smell of people who are being saved–today! That’s the smell we want to hear; the one that makes the noise of angels rejoicing. It is well worth releasing any old substitute that will fail us every time.
POSITIVE STEPS TOWARD GROWTH
Does your church have a strong representation of young adults with children in worship attendance? If not, this doesn’t mean you need to start changing everything to become like the “Obsession” church. A new web-site, sound and lighting system, worship band, and Face Book presence will not save you. These things may not hurt you either, but they are no substitute for foot work, visits, cards, personal care and welcoming, eye-ball-to-eye-ball concern. It means, don’t wait to reach out to each and every age in your congregation / community/neighborhood. Care about them and listen to their voice.
Be a multi-generational church at all times, “in honor, preferring one another.” Place the other group’s needs ahead of your own. This is the kind of change that is needed. Christ-likeness, not techno-savvy.
Please don’t ask that worship become about, “contemporary, traditional and blended.” Please! This just further segregates the body and gives someone another club to join—another preference to promote as a conviction. I suggest we never use these words for those reasons alone. Just be authentic. As a big family, use music that has a text worthy of Christ and true in doctrine, no matter when it was written. Use musicians that are proven and tested in their spiritual leadership qualification as well as their musical abilities.
Insist that the music is well rehearsed as good stewards of our talents, not to make a show of things and trying to impress others, upstaging God himself.
Facts to remember:
1-The church cannot start, stop, mask or substitute the odor belonging to her, as hard as she often tries.
2-She did not earn it our buy it. It has been applied by the Master Aromachologist. (new theological term)
3-The “knowledge about Christ” is the true source of our odor. Ephesians 5:2 (lest we begin to think we smell good on our own)
“And walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”
4-The olfactory of lost people is different from that of the saved. The dead cannot smell their own stench.
5-We, the smelly people, have a great commission to do. GO, therefore, let the people of this world hear your smell.
The sound of “joy in the presence of the angels over one sinner who repents.”