Reza Aslan reminds us that the priests in the Temple slit the throats of animals while sweet-smelling incense smoldered, in hopes of masking the stench. In the background common men could catch the whiff of roasting lamb that the priests would enjoy later, on God’s behalf.
I get the sense that God not only likes sweet smells but I imagine that God – being God – also smells quite good. The sour smell of death is beyond God. The stink of rot is beneath God.
One person’s hardwood mulch is another’s Chanel No. 5. What smells wonderful to a carpenter perhaps smells musty to a ballerina.
But there is something holy about certain smells that still have the power to take us someplace lofty and lovely: angel food cake takes me to Grandmother Ethel’s kitchen, a new can of Play-Doh takes me to our children’s preschool years, sawdust takes me to the NC State Fair.
I believe in a God who smells good. Like frankincense and myrrh. Like baby’s skin. Like freshly cut grass. But God has entered a world that often stinks. And our job is to enter that stinky world too:
“For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.” 2 Corinthians 2:15