by Rev. Mason Dorsey
(Eze 20:41) “As a soothing aroma I will accept you when I bring you out from the peoples and gather you from the lands where you are scattered; and I will prove Myself holy among you in the sight of the nations.”
There is great news for us in these words from Ezekiel. The first piece of great news is that we get to be a soothing aroma to God. For all those of us who have felt the sting of rejection and maybe have never felt accepted, to the most holy, powerful, present, loving God we are accepted as a soothing aroma. Just as you delight in the scent of burgers on the grill; a pie, loaf of bread, or cake coming out of the oven; fresh-cut grass or the clean, unpolluted air of the mountains; so God will delight in the scent and soothing aroma of you.
We’ve all sweated and stunk up the place from time to time and caused others to wrinkle their noses. During one Annual Conference, my small group of preachers got together one evening in my hotel room. I had finished a run and eaten a take-out steak literally minutes before they came over for what was intended to be a couple of hours of checking in with each other. The combination of unsavory smells in the room didn’t exactly make for a comfortable environment for people other than myself.
Israel had smelled even worse, if you can imagine. He had bathed himself in the incense of false gods. The juices of meat sacrificed to false gods still stained his clothes. The exhaustion of working through the Sabbath permeated every fiber of his being. And then there were the lingering scents of all the other things he did to abuse the commands God called him to obey. How do you commit adultery, oppress the poor and helpless, steal from debtors and lend money at excessive interest and not stink to high heaven?
Israel did all of this in a land flowing with milk and honey and other sweet smells that were God’s provision to him so that Israel could have a great relationship with God instead of worrying about the stuff. So God abandoned him to exile to peoples and lands that were already filled with the stench of his sin.
But back to the great news! God wants to bring us out from the people and lands where we’re scattered so that we get to be the soothing aroma accepted by God. God wants to gather us and make us His own. God wants to surround us once again with the beautiful fragrances that are found in the land flowing with milk and honey so that we can be what God has always asked us to be, a soothing aroma to Him. To Him only, we get to be the fragrance that delights God’s heart and causes Him to rejoice in the love and relationship He’s always wanted to have with us.
And it gets even better!! God will display His holiness through us to all the nations. All the nations get to see the Holy God and be drawn out of their unholiness and into God’s holiness. God’s intention isn’t to glorify Himself while convincing everyone else that they deserve the wrath they will get for transgressing His holiness. God’s intent is to draw everyone into a holy, loving relationship with Himself so that they too can be a soothing aroma to God, just as He intended for Israel to be.
As Wesleyans we get this. Hopefully you’ve seen the way of salvation through the above paragraphs that Wesley handed down to his spiritual descendants. The Spirit convinces us of both our stench before God and God’s desire to make us a fragrant, soothing aroma. When we repent of our smell, it’s wiped off of us for good as we are justified through the cross of Christ. At the same time we are given a new fragrance, the aroma of Christ that begins to permeate our souls. As the Spirit grows us in sanctification, that aroma flourishes and works itself into our whole being and our relationships with others. One day, here or in the Eternal Kingdom, we will have only the aroma of the holiness of God.
Thank you for being the clergy and laity of the Florida Annual Conference. Thank you for calling people out of the peoples and lands to which they have scattered/been scattered to be the aroma of Christ, a pleasing fragrance, a soothing perfume through which the holiness of God is on display to all the nations of the world. Thank you for letting Jesus do His work in you so that God is glorified as more and more become holy as our Heavenly Father is holy.