“Scratch and Sniff”

Recently, we received an advertisement in the mail for a brand of perfume. On the flyer was a place where you could scratch and smell the fragrance.  The purpose of the “scratch and sniff” sample was to make you want to purchase the product.  We scratched and smelled, then threw the sample in the garbage.  We were not impressed!

As followers of Christ, there are “scratch and sniff” opportunities every day.   In the normal rhythms of life, we touch the lives of those who do not know Christ – those who have never experienced God’s love and forgiveness through Christ.  These touches are opportunities for our neighbors, co-workers, fellow students, business partners, and team members to sample the “fragrance” of knowing and following Christ.  In other words, every conversation, business dealing, community event, and any social encounter is a “scratch and smell” opportunity to reveal the aroma of the Kingdom of God.

The question is, what kind of “scratch and sniff” experience do others have when they rub up against us outside of our church buildings, away from our worship services and Bible studies.  Does the fragrance of our lives remind them of sacrificial, unconditional love – the kind of love that led God to send His only Son to die on a cross for our sins?

What do others smell when they get close to us?  Do our attitudes and behavior give off an odor of self-serving arrogance and pride?  Do others smell the stench of materialism and consumerism so prevalent in today’s culture?  Worse, is it possible they smell nothing at all because our apathy, fear or lack of concern keeps everyone at a distance?

These “scratch and sniff” opportunities are important for the church’s testimony to the world.  They are more important than budgets, buildings and programs combined.  They have a greater impact than mission projects, revivals and special offerings.  The day-to-day encounters will either negate or validate what we say we believe.  Further, when our actions and lifestyle during the week are not consistent with what we preach on Sunday, the testimony of the church is lost.  Even worse, the Kingdom of God is maligned.

On the other hand, the aroma of the Kingdom of God is the beautiful fragrance of love.  When Christians truly and consistently love one another, they give off the scent of God’s character, and His unconditional love.  Jesus said, “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another.”  (John 13:35)

This was very important to Jesus. He called this love for one another a “new commandment.” Earlier in His ministry, He said the first and greatest commandment is to “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind . . . And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”   So, what is new about the commandment in John 13:35?  We are to love each other as He loves us!  The new standard for loving others is Jesus!  This is the fragrance and aroma of God’s Kingdom.

What kind of “scratch and sniff” experience do others have when they “bump” up against us?  Do we give off an aroma of love, forgiveness, and compassion? Is the encounter memorable and pleasant?  Or, is the aroma one that pushes them away? May we strive to be the sweet smell of Jesus in the community God has placed us.

Larry Doyle

Published by Larry Doyle

Dr. Larry Doyle served as the Director of Missions for the Piedmont Baptist Association from September 1, 2003, to May 31, 2016. Since retiring from the Piedmont Baptist Association in 2016, Dr. Doyle has served as interim pastor and pulpit supply for several churches in the Piedmont Triad area. He served the Pinecroft Baptist Church from August 2018 to October 2020. His ministry began in the pastorate in Kentucky, his native state. He served as pastor of three churches while completing his undergraduate, graduate and post graduate degrees. (1968–1979) He and his wife Becky, a native of Greensboro, served as missionaries with the International Mission Board in Ecuador from 1980 to 1992. They returned to North Carolina where Larry pastored the Union Cross Hispanic Baptist Church in Kernersville from 1992 to 2000. In January 2001 he and Becky moved Honduras where they served as the On-site Coordinator for Disaster Relief with the North Carolina Baptist Men, coordinating volunteer teams in rebuilding houses and churches after the destruction of Hurricane Mitch. Upon returning from Honduras in January 2002, Larry served as the International Ministries Director for Baptist Metrolina Ministries in Charlotte, NC, a position he held until answering the call to become the Director of Missions for the Piedmont Baptist Association in Greensboro, NC in September 2003. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Western Kentucky University, and received a Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Today Larry enjoys “Strengths Coaching” and mentoring pastors and church leaders. He also enjoys finding, refinishing and repurposing old, discarded furniture. Larry and Becky have two sons, Steve and Tim, and are the proud grandparents of five.

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