What Does the Aroma of Christ Smell Like?

Is there a childhood memory or particular person that you associate with a certain fragrance? For me, the scent of a particular facial cleansing bar instantly transports me back to my childhood.

The face of my grandmother, who always used that product, flashes in my mind. I can even see the pink shag carpet in her bathroom and feel the softness of her skin when I kissed her cheek.

Nowadays I’m the one my family associates with a certain scent. Specifically, I always wear the same signature perfume. People have even told me that they know I’ve recently been in a room when they catch a whiff of that particular fragrance.

man and two women with a boy and a girl inside of a home

I like to think that’s a compliment — and not a hint that I’m wearing too much perfume!

The point is, our sense of smell is powerful. Think about it: Perhaps no other sense connects us to memories and emotions as much as scent does. We associate many holidays, places and people with distinct scents.

I think Christmas smells like pine trees and cinnamon; camping smells like a combination of campfires, bug spray and toasted marshmallows; and babies smell like baby powder (unless they’re in need of changing!).

East Africa also has a distinct smell. To others it might smell of burning trash and charcoal cooking fires. But to me, it just smells like Africa.

With each return trip, the first thing I do when I step off the plane is inhale deeply — and I instantly know I am back!

group of people in a village market

Disney World’s Animal Kingdom has an East African village replica called Harambe. Disney’s imagineers got it spot on, down to the power lines resting on acacia tree branches, store signs written in Swahili and kangas hanging out to dry.

The only thing they missed is the smell. It might look like East Africa, but it sure smells like America. And frankly, most tourists probably prefer it that way!

Second Corinthians 2:14-15 tells us that, as Christians, we should have a distinctive aroma. The Message translation puts it this way:

“Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation — an aroma redolent with life.”

In other words, whenever our words or actions cause others to experience the love of Jesus, we leave an aroma redolent (fragrant) with life.

  • By transforming a child’s life through Compassion sponsorship, we are leaving an aroma redolent with life.
  • By building relationships through letters written to our sponsored children, we are leaving an aroma redolent with life.
  • By visiting our sponsored children, we are leaving an aroma redolent with life.
  • By encouraging others to sponsor a child, we are leaving an aroma redolent with life.

The best part is that it’s not just our sponsored children who get to experience that sweet aroma of Christ! The aroma permeates throughout the child’s family, too.

group of children

As other children are sponsored in the community, the aroma spreads further. And as we practice being the loving hand of Christ extended, that same aroma permeates through our own families and communities at home.

As that sweet aroma spreads, we pray that those who come into contact with it would come to associate the name of Jesus with God’s unconditional LOVE, boundless COMPASSION and eternal HOPE.

I pray that I spread the aroma of Christ today.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: LeeAnn Thompson is a pastor’s wife and missions director. She leads short-term mission trips to Tanzania, East Africa, where she has had the privilege of visiting her sponsored child.

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10 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Lillian Nyathi August 13, 2021

    God smells like rain

  2. Peggy Wolff May 7, 2018

    I make soaps, lotions and bath balms with the smell of Christ. Frankincense, murder and spikard oil. I even order the oils from Jerusalem. It’s myfavorite scent I make.

  3. AKUR April 7, 2012

    Christ smells of roses, that is what comes when in a state of Holy Grace

  4. Bloom High Chair September 28, 2011

    Great post…. I believe Christ smells really nice!

  5. LeeAnn September 27, 2011

    Lisa- so true! The greatest blessing is knowing that the love of Jesus is truly reaching and touching these children and their families…

  6. LeeAnn September 27, 2011

    Thanks JB 😉

  7. LeeAnn September 27, 2011

    Ahn- I hope you have the chance to visit your children. Visiting our sponsor child was an unforgettable experience!

  8. Lisa Miles September 27, 2011

    LeeAnn, this is just wonderful. There’s so much to think about here. (And I have to love any post that mentions Disney!) 🙂

    It’s funny how a certain scent can take you straight to a memory. My favorite aunt always smelled like mothballs and Chanel No. 5. The smell of Paul Mitchell hairspray still makes me think of my high school bathroom!

    I just love what you say here — “…whenever our words or actions cause others to experience the love of Jesus, we leave an aroma redolent (fragrant) with life.” It’s so exciting to think that our sponsored kids are on the receiving end of that.

  9. John B September 27, 2011

    Great job.

  10. Anh September 27, 2011

    Hello Leeann,
    It is wonderful to read your logs. LOVE IT !!!. I sponsored 2 boys from Tanzania. I hope someday be able to visit them. Thanks

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