A walking perfume

In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way to salvation-an aroma redolent with life. But those on the way to destruction treat us more like the stench from a rotting corpse” (2 Corinthians 2:14-16, The Message).

Chanel No. 5. I can smell it all day. I can smell it at a distance. It makes my head turn.

But I am more than Chanel No. 5. I am a walking perfume. Listen to Paul: “Through us. . . people breathe in the exquisite fragrance.” The apostle’s metaphor goes beyond language. It affirms what God has done through Christ in us. As a Christian, I “give off a scent rising to God.” I have “an aroma redolent with life.” But how do others react to this walking fragrance? Do they like it? Are they attracted to it? Does it reflect life in its fullness, joy in its radiance, and hope in its positive impact?

Jacob was a baker in a small Jewish town. Each morning, a long line of people queued up in front of his door for the best bread in town. Best not only in taste, but also in the wisdom it contained. The baker knew how to market his product. He knew the people to whom he sold his bread. Along with the loaf, he passed out to his customers something to think, to laugh, to hope. During his odd night hours he hunched over pieces of paper. He scribbled on each piece a little of his wisdom. One of those notes found its way into the dough and was baked into a loaf of bread.

The woman who found it was moved by what she read. Soon the whole community discovered Jacob’s secret.

How did he know so much, this Jacob? They all wanted to know. Soon little groups of Jacob’s Fan Club would form outside the bakery. Jacob would listen to them, answer their questions, laugh or cry with them, as the occasion demanded.

One day a man in his proudness, looked at the baker, his eyes longing for a word of wisdom. “Jacob, I want my life to make an impression on others.”

“Every life is an impression,” said Jacob.

“What do you mean?” asked the man.

“We are God’s fingerprints,” Jacob answered.*

Simple story, powerful message. If you are a Christian, your religion is about communication. Wherever you turn, you project an image. You are a walking perfume. Is yours a likable image, a fragrant perfume? Are people interested in the image you project? Do you transmit the fragrance of love, faith, and hope?

Jesus once said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9, NIV). Jesus reflected the Father—in His words, in His life, in His relationships. Nothing in His life contradicted the will or the purposes of God. He was a perfume for God. To see Jesus was to see the Father. To be with Him was to be with God. And so when Jesus said, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (John 20:21 NIV), He expected as much from us. To see us should be equivalent to seeing Him. We should reflect His image, carry His message, be His perfume.

Our life is our testimony. It should speak of Jesus. We may be poor; we may be rich; we may be learned; we may be simple, but we must, if we are Christians, carry the aroma of love, joy, and hope.

And if we do, people will know. “Here comes a Christian,” they would say.

Fingerprints of God. Aroma redolent with life. Images of God’s communicators. Wherever we are.

Born in Poland, Ray Dabrowski serves as communication director for the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. His address: 12501 Old Columbia Pike; Silver Spring, Maryland 20904; U.S.A. His e-mail address via CompuServe: 74431,1570.

* Jacob’s Journey, Noah BenShea (New York: Villard Books, 1991).