The Scent of Christ.

Our senses are a remarkable and complex way in which we understand and connect with the world around us. The sense of smell for example is particularly powerful and complex.

Researchers believe it is one of our oldest senses with the ability to detect up to 1 trillion smells or odours. Helen Keller (who was blind, deaf and mute) claimed she could identify individuals by name just from the way they smelled.

One of the original, key purposes of this olfactory sense is to monitor our environment, primarily to protect us from danger. This is why once a smell has been detected and processed by our brain the sense continues to work to monitor new smells in an attempt to guide our behavior, protect us and inform us of the world around us.

Consequently, once a scent has been identified it recedes from our consciousness as other smells are processed. This is why you can step into a room, notice a strong smell e.g. perfume, burnt toast, even the smell of stuffy air, but then after a while you no longer notice that smell anymore.

Often we don’t notice the scent of our own body. I have worn the same after shave for over 10 years but can never smell it on me unless I put my nose right up to my skin. Cath however always says I wear too much of it!

So our brain stops registering familiar smells until we re-engage with them in a different way; either by changing our position (move closer to the smell) or environment (leave the area where the smell exists and come back to it). I was cooking eggs the other morning and I didn’t smell the oil burning. It wasn’t until I turned around and looked into the living room and saw a haze of smoke that I realised I was smoking the house out.

Similarly, I think we have this ongoing challenge with our faith. How do we keep the story of Jesus alive, fresh and provocotive in our daily lives.

Revelation 19:10 says to worship God, for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.  

Just like the thousands of smells our olfactory sense engages with everyday, the life of Jesus continues to speak to us daily in rich, challenging, encouraging and life giving ways. Like a familiar scent however, the prophetic power of God’s story can get overly familiar to us.

In this Easter season, the story of Doubting Thomas is a reminder that we sometimes need moments where we need to see Jesus in tangible ways in order to revive that prophetic life and divine wonder in what may have become lifeless by other means.

Rather than accepting the word of others, Thomas said unless I see it for myself, I won’t believe. Then Jesus appeared to him. Real connections with Jesus within our everyday lives, enhance the story, repositioning us in a way that stimulate the senses of our faith again. As keepers of this story, we could consider it our responsibility to seek out these moments. To keep engaging with Jesus in real and tangle ways.

Clint and Cath

Clint Gibson