Being the Fragrance of Christ

Marla Alupoaicei's picture

The Christian author Frederick Buechner wrote in Godric:

“What’s lost is nothing to what’s found, and all the death that ever was, set next to life, would scarcely fill a cup.”

Studies show that smell is by far our most accurate sense. A single sniff of a freshly baked apple pie, for example, can cause an emotional response in ways that are not possible by touching it or looking at it. Our reactions to a particular odor largely depend on our experience with it and what our brain remembers.

We can breathe a whiff of a scent that we haven’t smelled in twenty or thirty years and instantly, we’re transported back to a particular moment in time. The salty, exhilarating aroma of the ocean where you took your honeymoon. The strong smell of paint that reminds you of the day you decorated your first home. A favorite perfume that your mother wore. The woodsy scent of cedar on a handmade quilt.    

Author Ellen Vaughn writes, “Years ago there was an incident on the Washington subway system in which a crowded train stalled on an underground track. Harried commuters were beside themselves. No one had been talking to one another, but now they burst into mutual, frenzied spurts of accusations against the driver—as if the situation was under his control—the Metro authorities, the federal government, anyone and everyone they could blame for this vile inconvenience.Somewhere in the midst of all this invective, a woman with a number of bulky shopping bags dropped a new bottle of perfume, and it shattered. Within a few minutes, the pure, luxurious fragrance had wafted the length of the crowded car. It was as if the fresh smell released people from a dark spell. They sniffed, smiled, and relaxed, laughing with each other. Surprise!

Followers of Jesus have the opportunity, in life’s crowded moments when people feel stuck, to be the fragrance of Christ. We don’t need to be annoying Pollyannas (who would be thrown right off the Metro anyway), but free spirits—saints and poets—who can lead and turn the tide, rather than follow along on the lazy downward spiral of negativity…. Then follows the creative question in the bad situation, a smile, compassion, a little humor that suggests that we need not take our small selves so seriously—a look upward and outward, where the vistas of God’s great love call us to come and enjoy him, now and forever.”1

When we allow ourselves to be broken and spilled out as a sacrifice for others, we release the fragrant, beautiful aroma of Christ. And that aroma instantly reminds others of who God is.

How are you faring in the “fragrance of Christ” department? Do you tend to absorb and reflect the negativity of those around you, or does the sweet aroma of Christlikeness flow from your soul like an expensive perfume?

Do you provide others with a refreshing burst of grace and positive perspective even in the most difficult situations? If not, take a moment to look at what might be found and redeemed from even the toughest circumstances.  

1. Ellen Vaughn, Radical Gratitude, Zondervan.


Hey, friend! Great post! Your post reminded me of a Bible study in which the author said something like, "we have the opportunity to either be a thermometer or a thermostat." Thanks for the great reminder.

Hi, Amy Joy! I'm so glad you found Tapestry. Thanks for your comments. That is a good reminder about the thermometer or the thermostat. It's a lot of work sometimes to reflect the positive even in a tough situation. Bot God gives us the grace! How are you, Layne and the tots doing? I am almost 7 months along now... due August 1. Hard to believe! We're so excited to welcome a baby boy into the world. Let's get together soon!



Beautiful post. I love the images here!

Heather, thanks so much for your kind comments. I am so honored to be able to post on Tapestry. Each person's posts are so inspiring and moving. Great reminders of how God is working through us to encourage and compel each other to be more like Christ. I'd love to get together soon. Blessings-


Sharifa Stevens's picture


I love this post! I was just talking this weekend with a group of women about what their "Signature Scent" of worship and witness could be - based on inspiration from Mary of Bethany in the gospels, and 2 Corinthians 14-17.

Sharifa, Thanks so much for your comments. I hope you are doing well! I've really enjoyed reading your posts, as well. I love the idea of having a "signature scent" of worship. So cool! Blessings to you, friend.


Hi Marla,
I have carried that Buechner quote written on a note in my Bible for nearly 2 years, and I read it again this morning, slowly and thoughtfully without knowing it would serve as a connection with you. Strange that I should bump into FB again in the same day. Buechner writes in "Secrets in the Dark" that he would like those words written on his tombstone.

Nice to meet up with you here, especially after seeing you a few weeks ago.

Your fragrant post will linger

Hi, Carol! It was so good to see you at the Book Expo. Of course, I should have known that you would love this quote, too! It's kind of the story of my life the past few years. I have to keep reminding myself of its truth! I am thrilled to see that you are blogging on Tapestry. I really miss you. Let's get together soon! My cell is (214) 497-4614. I love Buechner's writing... so inspiring... He is able to connect theology with real life so well. That is my goal!

Add new comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.
Blog Category: