The Fragrance of Union with Christ
The following article is from a monthly newsletter Man-to-Man written by retired RPCNA Pastor Ken Smith, who is the author of the book With Him.
For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.” -2 Corinthians 2:15
Have you ever entered a room and suddenly are aware of a different aroma? I grew up in early years in the country. Yes, farmers, and you could tell that was their work without their having to tell us. They spent hours around the cows and hogs, and we could tell it. One could say the same about entering a florist shop. The aroma is obvious: flowers.
When Paul the apostle says Christians leave an aroma, while one may not sense it by smell, there is an aura from the presence of the Holy Spirit that makes itself known! What is it? Expressions on faces? Tone of voice? A calmness showing a relaxed demeanor? A face that shows interest in others? A smile? It is no doubt all of the above; but it’s there. And it’s often what lays the ground-work for gospel witness. Now what makes that aura?
This is a key factor in helping a new believer’s learning what it means to be a witness for his newfound Savior. It’s the mystical – and powerful – presence of the Holy Spirit. Of course, we want him to learn ways to witness to the lost. But he first needs to learn how this witness comes about. There’s a mystical aspect to it that persons often have missed. And without it, he tires and quits. It’s called the fruit of the Spirit. It’s Christ-likeness that He does in us!
For example when the hostile crowds heard the apostles and their witness, the text says, “…they took knowledge of their having been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). So many earnest believers have never seen the connection between their personal walk with Jesus in the word and prayer… and effective witness. It, too, is mystical. In the same way you can smell a farmer, it’s because of his contact with the farm environment. And in the same way, a person who has learned how to spend good time in his personal, private worship brings an aroma with him or her. It’s the presence of the Holy Spirit!
I really got turned on as a young pastor when I grasped this simple truth! My time spent with Jesus in the word and prayer affected me outwardly. It is what we call “witness.” I learned the key to my witness – my aroma – was my time in the word and prayer! In that “time” Jesus by His word and Spirit was making me into a useful witness.
Now this is again the fulfillment of the doctrine of “union with Christ.” As the Pharisees and critics of Jesus observed and heard the disciples, they surmised they had been with Jesus! And that’s why we keep the focus on Him. “How did your time with Jesus go today?” Answered prayer can do more to excite your kids about Christ than almost anything. And when it comes to helping our new convert learn to witness, once he sees that it’s the Lord Himself at work in his own life that opens the opportunities, he gets excited. Yes, he does!
It’s very easy to become a “Pharisee,” a hypocrite. When we help a new believer to learn how to read the Scripture and pray as a daily practice, we have helped him learn that Christ actually meets with Him, opens the Word, answers his prayers. In short, Christ by His living Spirit Indwells him and teaches him. If he fails to seek this “mystical” aspect of reading the word and prayer, he may do the “exercise” but will soon lose enthusiasm. It’s just a “religious” thing. No power! That’s why we meet with Him and talk about it. He “catches” this by the Spirit of God when He opens the Scripture to him. When he has an answered prayer, this encourages him. And this is the focus of your prayer for him: that God would open His word to him and answer his prayers.
So we keep our focus on his fellowship with the Lord. Listen to him talk of his own experiences. He needs encouragement. He may also need a change in attitude or behavior. Jesus didn’t hesitate to correct His men when they got off track. When appropriate, share from your own mistakes and how you learned from them. I say again that it’s his own walk with Jesus that provides the urge to share the gospel with others. Later he can accompany you on your own visits to the lost. This is what we call “inductive” learning. That’s discipleship!!