What Does Jesus Smell Like?

Photo by Marta Branco Courtesy pexels

Photo by Marta Branco Courtesy pexels

Wherever I went, the smell followed. It was spicy and earthy, like patchouli oil. Though I was certain I hadn’t used any patchouli scented products that morning, after a bit of sniffing, I confirmed the scent was definitely coming from me.

As I pondered how the patchouli could have gotten there, I remembered that earlier in the day I’d hugged a friend, and I realized her fragrance had transferred to me through our embrace.

The fragrance of Christ

We tend to become like the people we spend time with. The closer the association, the more we pick up another’s mannerisms, patterns of speech, eating habits and even smell.

I wouldn’t have smelled like my friend’s essential oil if I hadn’t been in close proximity with her. But because I know her well, love her, and hugged her, a little bit of her transferred to me, and her aroma lingered even after we parted.

Isn’t it the same with God?

In 2 Corinthians 2:15 Paul writes “Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God” (NLT). We become like Christ, even taking on his fragrance, when we spend time with Him, when we get close to Him, when we live in daily connection with Him.

What is the fragrance of Christ?

What does it actually mean to be a Christ-like fragrance? What does Jesus smell like? Does He smell like the scent after rain, or the ocean, or lavender? Perhaps He smells like cedar wood or cinnamon? Or maybe curry or freshly ground coffee? I don’t know, but it’s fun to think about! (And I’m looking forward to one day finding out!)

Perhaps more than a smell, the fragrance of Christ is an atmosphere. When we encounter an ambience of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, joy or wisdom, we can be certain that He is the source. As we spend time with Him, these qualities grow in us, transform us, and spread to those around us. A kind word on our tongue, a warm hug, a helping hand, a listening ear, a shared meal—these bring the rich aroma of Jesus.  

Final thoughts

Knowing that who I spend time with influences who I become makes me want to be ever more mindful of ensuring that I get plenty of time in with God. I want it to be His fragrance filling the atmosphere around me, not the malodor of discontent, fear, judgement, or discouragement.

So I’m asking myself, With what aroma am I tinting my atmosphere? And In what environments (movies, books, places, attitudes, etc.) am I spending time, and how is that affecting my fragrance?

What do you think it means to be the fragrance of Christ? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

With love,

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“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 of salvation—an aroma redolent with life.” 2 Corinthians 2:15-16 (MSG)


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