Encourager June 2017
The Sweet Perfume of Jesus – was the theme for our National Secretariat Meeting in Busselton, Western Australia. National Lay Director Roger O’Hara chose it from Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, chapter 2: 14-15 “14 But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. 15 Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing”.
There are many smells and aromas that surround our daily lives – that distinctive smell of the local garbage truck or the road kill left behind on the main road … but what about the smell of freshly baked bread, or the sight, sound and smell of bacon cooking for breakfast, or enjoying the achievement and smell of a freshly cut lawn. I’m sure we all have our favourites.
So, how can our lives spread the sweet perfume of Jesus? How can everyone with whom we come in contact see Jesus in us? Some background: In a Roman triumphal procession, the victorious general would display his treasures and captives amidst a cloud of incense burned for the pagan gods. To the victors, the aroma is sweet; to the captives, the prisoners in the parade, it was the smell of slavery and death. When Christians share the Gospel, it is good news to some and repulsive news to others. Believers recognise the life-giving fragrance of the message. To non-believers, however, it smells foul, like death – and in this case, their own.
So, how can we change the way we live each day in order to spread the sweet perfume of Jesus? I’d like to suggest 3 things we can do – we can change our words, change our deeds, what we do – and change our attitudes.
Our Words – Ephesians 4:29 and 5:4 are relevant here. We can upset, disappoint or grieve the Holy Spirit by the way we live. Here, Paul warns us against bad language, fighting, saying false things against people and having a bad attitude toward others. Instead of all this, we need to be more patient, forgiving and showing love towards the people we meet – just as God did when He sent Jesus to die for our sins. Obscenity and coarse joking are so common that we begin to take them for granted. Paul cautions, however, that improper language should have no place in the Christian’s conversation because it does not reflect God’s gracious presence in us. How can we praise God and remind others of His goodness when we are speaking coarsely?
Our Deeds – Matthew 5:16 and Galatians 5: 19-21 are our scriptural basis here. The well-worn description which asks the question: ‘Can you hide a city that is sitting on top of a hill?’ Its light at night can be seen for many kilometres. If we live for Jesus, we will glow like lights – emit Christ-like perfume – showing others what Christ is like.
We hide our light or keep Christ’s aroma to ourselves by:.
1. Being quiet when we should speak;
2. Going along with the crowd;
3. Denying the light;
4. Letting sin dim our light;
5. Not explaining our light to others; OR
6. Ignoring the needs of others.
We need to be a light that shines, and to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume.
We all have evil desires, and so we can’t ignore them. In order for us to follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance, we must deal with them decisively – or as Ephesians 5:24 tells us, crucify them. Such desires include the obvious sins such as sex-ual immorality and witchcraft – but also the less obvious ones like selfish ambition, hatred and jealousy. Those who ignore such sins or refuse to deal with them show that they have not received the gift of the Spirit that leads to a reformed life. And lastly,
Our Attitudes – Philippians 2: 5-8 and Romans 8: 5-8 are our go-to scriptures here. Jesus Christ is humble – willing to give up His rights and serve people. Like Christ, we should have a servant’s attitude, serving out of love for God and others – not out of guilt or fear. We should always remember that we can choose our attitude. We can approach life expecting to be served – OR – we can look for opportunities to serve others. When Jesus walked this earth as a human being, he voluntarily assumed a human body and human nature. He did not cease to be God BUT He did set aside the right to His glory and power. Jesus of Nazareth was subject to place, time and many other human limitations. But by being without sin, He was unique. He showed us that everything about God’s character can be conveyed in human terms.
In Romans, Paul divides his audience into 2 categories – those who are dominated by their sinful nature, and those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit. All of us would be in the first category if Jesus hadn’t offered us a way out. Once we say YES to Jesus, we will want to follow Him, because His way brings life and peace. Daily, we need to consciously choose to centre our lives on God. By immersing ourselves in the Bible, we can discover God’s guidelines, and then follow them. In every perplexing situation, ask “What would Jesus have me do?” – and when the Holy Spirit points out what is right, do it eagerly.
May we ask God to help us be aware of the place of Jesus in our lives: “May the Holy Spirit guide the words we say, the way we conduct our-selves and the attitudes we choose to have. We give thanks for the Cursillo Movement in this Diocese and throughout the world. May it prosper and bring glory to your Holy Name by spreading your sweet perfume to all.
This we pray through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Fr Steve Niland – National Spiritual Advisor & our Diocesan Spiritual Director
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