Love Stinks

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. And who is equal to such a task?
—2 Corinthians 2:15-16

.   .   .

I’ve always wondered what that smell was.

It’s weird, the whole Jesus thing. I mean, you can be at a party—not one of those Christian things but a real live party with pagans and booze and lots of other cool stuff—and you can talk about anything. You can bring up your prescription for medical marijuana, your incestuous relationship with your cousin, the time you stole a hundred bucks from the cash register, how you cheat on your income tax, where to score Viagra for cheap, which acupuncture points loosen up constipation, which senator is on the take, how to cook beef spleen, or who is a secret cross-dresser. Nobody will bat an eye. You can even go religious on them and tell about your meditation class or explain how Buddhism helps you get in touch with your transcendental libido or discuss how science seems to suggest the existence of a supreme mind somewhere out there. People will sip their Merlot and lean into the conversation like nobody’s business.

YJAKTBut just drop the word Jesus into a conversation—in any way that’s not an expletive—and see what happens. Just gently speak that name into a group of otherwise totally cool pagans (or desperately wannabe cool Christians) and the temperature will instantly plummet to -15 degrees. They will blink, wide-eyed and dumbfounded, suddenly at a loss for words. Where a moment before the chatter bubbled like pudding on the stove, now the conversation will thud to the floor like a congealed hunk of pork fat. They will look away, shift their feet uncomfortably, and if somebody doesn’t come to the rescue with a dirty joke or timely vomit, the group will disperse as quickly as if somebody had passed 50 cubic feet of methane to the sound of a tuba fanfare.

Oh, it’s become fashionable to thank Jesus for the Grammy you won for your rap hit “Kill the Bitch While I Rape That Little Girl.” And everybody knows that after beheading the quarterback a good defensive lineman should kneel and thank Jesus for this blessing. Of course, any politician worth his mistress and kickbacks ends his speeches with “God Bless America.” And what could be more endearing than a “Jesus Saves” sticker on the barrel of a howitzer? And what could be hipper than the Christ as cachet so popular among today’s spiritual bohemians? But these are a Jesus with his scent glands removed (probably illegal in some states). This is not the Jesus I mean.

I’m talking about the version of Jesus that no Wizard air freshener can mask. I’m talking about that name in the mouth of somebody gullible enough to actually believe in it and nervy (or dorky) enough to say it out loud in a group of folks who are way the hell too hip to be found within smelling distance. It’s like lobbing a greasy glob of toxic waste onto a fine china plate. We’re talking situational horror here.  We’re talking social mortification. We’re talking execution by stigmata. We’re talking Jesus freaking stench. No wonder Paul questions his ability to live up to such a deal. I mean, who really wants to be the death of the party?

But that’s what the Man wants. “Go into all the world and stink up the place,” he says. “Make stinkers out of them too.”

Sounds like a plan.

.   .   .



2 Responses

  1. Hi Fred !
    Awesome!!! Never thought of it this way before. You painted such a detailed, accurate word picture of what actually happens when Christ enters the room through our conversation:-) For me, I’m just going to continue having fun stinking on everyone!! What a mental picture— also explains a lot:-)
    Thanks, blessings,
    Pat Beach

  2. Smells good to me ….too !!

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