God's Grace Stinks
Our world is full of smells. Some are… strong: diapers, sweat, manure, wet dog, rotten egg. Not only are they bad smells; they’re overwhelming. Of course, not all smells are bad. Newly cut grass, fresh brewed coffee, flowers, burgers on the grill: they all make your nose happy to be alive.
Our nose knows the difference between the good smells and the bad smells. Did you know the Christian life is also filled with smells? In fact, scripture is full of stories about God’s redemptive grace, and often the work is, well, stinky.
· Know the stench of raw seafood? Imagine what Jonah faced. (Jonah 1:17)
· What about muddy pig food? The prodigal son wished he could eat it. (Luke 15:16)
· Millions of dead frogs baking in the sun? Pharaoh begged Moses for it. (Ex. 8:8,14)
· Remember Lazarus? I love how the KJV says Jesus was warned, “he stinketh.” (John 11:39).
· How would your feet smell after a full day? Jesus washed his disciples’ feet (John 13:1-17)
In each instance, God used some type of stinkiness as an act of grace. The bad odor allowed both Jonah and the prodigal son to come to their senses. It helped Lazarus’ friends see Jesus’ miraculous power over death and showed both the Egyptians and Israelites how little control Pharaoh really had. A collection of stinky feet showed the disciples that Jesus came to lead by serving. In every circumstance, God was at work even when the smell was at its worst.
Our world is full of smells and many aren’t pleasing. Our lives can also be filled with circumstances, problems and issues that are also unpleasant. It’s often exactly when God begins to work that such unpleasantness becomes fully exposed. But Paul reminds us that, while God’s grace may reveal our stinkiness, He doesn’t leave us there. As the Holy Spirit continues to work, we are made into a new creation, and Paul tells us what we become. The stink and unpleasantness are taken away and exchanged with something else.
“For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing” (2 Cor. 2:15).
Sometimes our messy lives can turn into big piles of stink. But we belong to a God who is in the business of offering redeeming grace that turns our stink into the pleasing aroma of Christ.
‘til the storm passes by,
Pastor Billy Byler