I can’t eat garlic.
Actually, I can. It’s physically possible, I guess. I just shouldn’t. Never. Not under any circumstances. No way.
At least that’s what my family says.
The other night we were running behind. It was 5:50 p.m. and we had to make a parent-teacher conference by 6:30 p.m. Dinner wasn’t on the table (I think it was my night to cook) so we stopped at a local pizza shop. As I stood in line I couldn’t make up my mind. Slice of cheese with barbeque chicken? Slice of vegetable with gorgonzola? Ham and pineapple? I thought to myself, “Man, pizza sure has changed since I was a kid.” Pressed for time I told the guy at the counter, “I’ll take that dish over there with the chicken and broccoli and white stuff sprinkled all over it.”
When the waitress dropped our food off at the table we dove in. “We’re outta here in ten minutes,” I said. To my surprise the white stuff turned out to be fresh ground garlic, which was fantastic. With my mouth full I shouted to non-one in particular, “Di stuff id gweat!” and devoured the whole bowl. Twenty minutes later we were in the school parking lot.
As I walked to the door my middle daughter said, “Dad, you stink.”
“Really?” I shot back.
“Yeah dad,” my older one said, “it’s horrible.” My wife nodded. With only a few minutes left before the conference I panicked. Garlic was oozing out of me. I went to the bathroom, wiped my tongue with some toilet paper, rubbed soap all over my face, chewed some gum really fast and wiped gum juice on my cheeks, thinking that would cover the smell.
I’ll spare you the gory details of what followed—the teacher’s hand over her mouth the whole conference, my wife’s shame, my sixth grader’s hope of getting into Harvard dashed, marriage counseling, etc. It was ugly.
But it illustrates a point.
When I look back on that embarrassing night I can’t help but think of a passage in the Bible. 2 Corinthians 2:16 says,
For we are…the aroma of Christ…
The context of this passage discusses the way in which followers of Jesus influence those around them-both the convinced and the undecided. What we’re taught is that God’s presence actually oozes out of us, like an aroma.
What I like about that verse is it is utterly natural.
There’s no hype or manufactured enthusiasm in that verse. Its truth is very simple: if the love of God is in your life, it will come out. God’s presence is so consuming, so spiritually pungent; that it oozes out of us liked garlic seeps out of our pores.
Many Christians I meet feel guilty because they’re not spiritual adrenaline junkies, out there encouraging dozens of people to examine spiritual truth by noon everyday.
2 Corinthians 2:16 reminds us that a life well lived, full of love and truth and grace and compassion oozes the presence of God. People can’t help but take notice.
Cardinal Emmanuel Suhard once said,
To be a witness does not consist in engaging propaganda, nor even in stirring people up, but in being a living mystery. It means to live in such a way that one’s life would not make sense if God did not exist.
You do that today and you’ll influence people. I guarantee it.
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