When Jesus asked for the removal of the stone covering Lazarus’ tomb, the response was, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead for four days” (John 11:39). The stench of death—few have ever experienced it. Perhaps there was the odor from the death of an animal, but never the stench of death from a human body. Over the years, I have had two acquaintances whose work involved the removal of bodies from the homes of those who have been dead for several days. The stench of death—both of these friends described its retched, almost unbearable smell.
We are all aware that Christians are the light of the world and the salt, but few are aware that the Lord speaks of the “smell” which comes from Christians. Paul, in his second letter to Corinth, speaks of the fragrance of Christianity. “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place” (2:14). Being led by the Lord, there is an aroma we spread as we give others knowledge of Him and His will.
Paul then adds, “For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.” The “smell” of Christians is more than a beautiful aroma to those we are leading to Christ, but we also are to God the fragrance of Christ.
Then, what does the title of this article, “Christians Stink,” have to do with all of this? If we are the fragrance of Christ to God and to those who are being saved, then how is it that Christians stink? Look at the next words Paul expresses.
“To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life.” Jesus said, “The light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). As we spread the fragrance of the knowledge of the Lord, it is beautiful to some, but to many the same words are the stench of death! As we live among men and the light of heaven shines through us, that beautiful aroma from heaven is to the wicked as horrendous as the stench of death. In the next verse, Jesus describes the man who practices evil and hates the light. He refuses the light “lest his deeds should be exposed.”
The bottom line is this. If your life is ruled by political correctness and your desire is to be loved by all those around you, you will “smell” good to most people. The reality is that as our lives and speech uphold righteousness we must expect the ungodly to react to us as most react to the stench of decaying bodies. Our Lord told us that to some, “Christians stink.”