If I had to choose one of the five senses to lose it would be smell. I have never had a good nose that picks up particular scents and have found that often advantageous! Although not an expert on the subject, I would predict nearly half of the world’s smells are odorous, not fragrant.
The Bible speaks of a smelly situation. Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha, had died. Before Jesus commanded the stone to be rolled away from his tomb in order for him to pray for his friend, Martha warned,” Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.” John 11:39b. Of course this warning didn’t stop Christ. They rolled away the stone, he commanded Lazarus to come forth, and he did!
For those obsessed with the latest mummy craze this would truly be the first sighting! He was bound hand and foot, with his face also wrapped with a cloth. Jesus then commanded those around him to loose him and let him go.
This process of unwrapping Lazarus depicts the new life of a believer. When we receive Christ as Savior our outward lives are often not instantly changed. We have salvation, a new nature, and the power of Christ to become overcomers, but we often have our past “old man” to deal with in the form of habits.
We may have areas of weakness and sin that rear their ugly heads as we begin to walk our faith journey. Those who lived with anger may still have frequent outbursts. Those who had addictions may stumble in the steps of breaking those chains. People who had problems with gossip may have their tongue slip. It’s smelly in a spiritual sense.
God knows our humanity however. He also knows the importance of others graciously coming alongside new believers to help unwrap layer by layer these shortcomings.
Mature Christians who have the privilege of supporting new Christians in their faith understand that they are not perfect themselves. For all it is a daily step-by-step walk, in which every right decision leads forward.
Can you imagine if those around Lazarus who were commanded to loosen him had turned up their noses, refusing to do so because of the horrible stench?
Sadly sometimes Christians and even entire congregations are guilty of this attitude. They forget that Christ, our Good Shepherd, calls us His sheep. They forget how smelly sheep are.
Galatians 5:17 states, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.”
Let us strive to make the truth of this scripture a reality- to gladly loosen and step out of smelly graveclothes, our own and those of others, as we cultivate our new nature so that through spiritual transformation we can behold the amazing creations God has formed in us through His Holy Spirit.
It is a metamorphosis, a thing of beauty, in which we realize we are truly The Grateful Dead made new instead.