What’s In You?
Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1-2 NIV)
One of my favorite Bible teachers is Pastor Bob Coy. He has a wonderful example he often uses in teaching that I’m going to borrow for today’s message.
Picture a Ziploc container. You know the type. Somewhat disposable, yet still re-usable. You can buy them in the grocery store by the plastic baggies. They are durable, functional and handy. You can store food in them, candy, snacks, leftovers, crayons, screws and nails….whatever you would like to store if it fits in there.
So, let’s say you make some tuna salad. You have a nice sandwich, but you have leftover tuna salad. So you put it in your Ziploc container, and save it in the fridge for later. Once you’ve eaten all the tuna salad over the next few days, you place the Ziploc bowl in the dishwasher. It’s now clean, and you go to put it away, and…. sniff… sniff… sniff… What’s that smell? It’s clean, but it still has that faint little smell of tuna. Fishy. Hmmm. It’s clean, but there still is that little bit of odor that lingers. That tuna fish got into the plastic, seeped in, and no matter how hard you wash it, how many times, there will always be that slight, faint smell of tuna fish.
That’s what a Christian is like. Once Christ enters in, He is always there. So as we interact in the world, where ever we may go, someone is watching us as a Christian, to see how we act. So now my question: What’s in you?
Are you leaving a fragrant aroma of offering as Christ did? Or does that person smell a whole bunch of you, and very little of Christ? Do you give the impression that Christians are something desirable, or do you give the impression that Christians are phony and fake?
As a Christian, the world is looking to us for so many things, but most especially they watch us in relationships. The common wisdom in society is that Christians are nothing but a bunch of whitewashed hypocrites, certainly not practicing what they preach. “Holier than thou.” And when you look at things like sins within the church, especially those impacting others around us, we certainly have earned the reputation. And yes, the church is the hospital for sinners, not the haven for the saints. But God is calling you and me to a higher standard of behavior. He is asking us to be His light, shining into a dark world, as it comes to marriage and divorce.
The church as a whole divorces just as much, or even more, than the world does. God has called us to be the ones standing for marriage and saying that there is a higher way – a better way – one man and one woman for a lifetime. He has called us to trust in Him to restore our marriages for His glory. Yes, many of us are called to raise a marriage from the dead. Remember the story of Lazarus? Dead in the tomb for 4 days. Did you know that the ancient Hebrew rabbis and teachers taught that a person’s spirit remained with their body for 3 days before passing on to eternity? That 4th day meant that Lazarus was gone. Dead as could be. And Christ came, on that 4th day. Why did He wait? It says in the Scripture that Christ loved them – Mary, Martha and Lazarus. And He waited…because He loved them. But it was so much more than that. He waited for His glory, that He might be glorified through this situation.
As He came to the tomb, we see Christ and He cries. I can’t help but think that those tears were more than just tears of the situation. I think that Christ was crying for what He knew shouldn’t be. Sin, death, the fallen condition of this world. I think His tears were for far more than the Scripture conveys. But then, He reveals His glory.
He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” (John 11: 43b NKJV)
The verse that always strikes me deeply in the story of Lazarus comes but a mere few verses before Christ calls dead Lazarus from the grave.
Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” (John 11:40 NKJV)
“Did I not say to you that if you would believe…” If you would believe, God can and will do anything for you. As dead as things may seem, God can turn it around. He set the universe into motion. He created absolutely everything we can see. Therefore, in His time, in His way, He will call our marriage out of the dead to be restored for His glory. In the meantime, He is asking us to be faithful. He is asking us to be leaving His aroma everywhere that we go. He’s asking us that when the world sees us, they see Him in us.
You love righteousness and hate wickedness;
therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions
by anointing you with the oil of joy.
All your robes are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia;
from palaces adorned with ivory
the music of the strings makes you glad. (Psalm 45:7-8 NIV)
Passages marked “NIV” are Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
Passages marked “NKJV” are Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.