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  • Writer's pictureJack Selcher

Fragrance of Christ

Updated: Apr 2

Fragrant incense smoke rising in the air

I was sitting in a chair in my office and looking out the window one morning in mid-November 2022. Unexpectedly, a whitetail deer walked through the yard from my left to my right. She was about thirty feet from my window and walking toward a wooded area behind the house to my right. Several minutes passed.

Then, I saw another deer with a nose on the ground following the same path as the previous deer. Several minutes later a third deer followed the same track with a nose on the ground.

I reasoned that the second and third deer were following the scent of the first deer that crossed the yard. She was probably their mother. She was out of sight, but they followed her scent.

A little research proved my suspicion was probably correct. Scientists at Mississippi State University concluded that a whitetail’s sense of smell is up to 1000 times better than that of humans.1 Nevertheless, our sense of smell tells us far more than we realize.

No two humans have the same scent. Subconsciously, these odors affect our behavior in many ways. Newborns recognize their mother’s scent by their second day of life.

Studies suggest that our emotions have a scent that other humans can detect and smelling them can lead to feeling those same emotions. For example, smelling fear in others makes us anxious. In addition, we can detect sickness and eliminate incompatible partners by their odor without realizing what is happening.2

So, I wonder, can others subconsciously detect the scent of the love, joy, and peace we have in Jesus? Maybe. “But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task?” (2 Corinthians 2:14–16, NIV)

The Greek word translated as “pleasing aroma” is used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament to describe God-pleasing sacrifices (Numbers 15:3). Jesus’ death on the cross was such a sacrifice. Likewise, surrendering our resources to serve God and others smells like the most expensive perfume to God (Romans 12:1).

The Christ-like allure of our message and our sacrifice attracts some and repels others. Only by God’s grace can we be the sweet perfume of Christ in a land fouled with the stench of sin and death.

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1. Whitetail Sense of Smell Explained (

2. The Sense of Smell in Humans is More Powerful Than We Think | Discover Magazine

Photo: Incense Images | Free Photos, PNG Stickers, Wallpapers & Backgrounds - rawpixel

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