July 25, 1995
According to a recent article in “Health Watch,” smell has more influence on our lives than taste. For instance, the odor of vanilla reduces anxiety. According to one experiment involving three thousand people, the scents of banana, green apple and peppermint together encourage weight loss, up to 5 pounds a month.
People who lose their sense of smell also experience depression or anxiety. Dr. Alan Hirsch, director of smell and taste research in Chicago says often smell is craved, not food. Perhaps that is why those smells produce a weight loss; smell alone satisfied those three thousand people in the experiment.
If people are truly more interested in “smelling” than eating, that could explain why people do not like Christians “shoving religion” down their throats. I will explain. . . .
The metaphor is this: in the Bible, prayers and obedient lives are called “pleasing odors” to God and the “sweet smell” of Christ to others. Being forced to ingest or accept a doctrine or theological viewpoint without really wanting it is like being force-fed. Seeing someone live it out is far more pleasing. Thus, “smelling” is better than “eating.”
The metaphor holds true from the opposite perspective too. If someone is spiritually hungry and fortunate enough to observe a pleasing Christian lifestyle, their hunger will be satisfied, but only for a short time and only in a minimal way. The “sweet smell” of another person’s life cannot replace spiritual food to satisfy a deep and genuine spiritual hunger. Those who are hungry need to “taste and see” for themselves or they may perish.
Jesus called Himself “the Bread of Life who came down from heaven” and claimed, “He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.”
People who heard him were confused. Before they could understand the metaphor, they had to accept that He came from heaven. This they were not willing to do. To them, He was merely the son of Joseph, the carpenter, so He responded to their confusion with, “Stop grumbling among yourselves . . . Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from Him comes to me. No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only He has seen the Father. I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats this bread, he will live forever.”
As Jesus explained that his flesh was the bread, which He would give for the life of the world, the Jews began to argue even more. They thought He was cramming an unwanted theology down their throats. Although He had lived a sinless, “sweet smelling” life before them and although He had told them this “Bread” would save their lives for eternity, they were not interested in either eating or smelling.
The Apostles experienced the same response: “For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.”
Some cannot imagine anyone enjoying life in submission to Christ; to them, Christians “smell” like death. They assume whatever we offer is poison. Others see the aroma of Christ and to them, the Christian life is pleasing, like fresh baked apple pie. That sweet smell draws them to the Source and eventually to “taste and see that the Lord is good” for themselves.