I have some confessions to make…
Confession #1: I don’t like popcorn. It took me a while to come to this realization, as for most of my life, when it was offered as snack, I’d grab a handful and mindlessly stuff my face. But over time, I’ve trained myself, “Jessica, don’t eat that. Remember, you don’t actually LIKE popcorn.”
But if I were completely honest, the primary reason I don’t like popcorn is that I HATE the way it smells. Even when it’s cooked perfectly, I’m not a fan. But when overcooked, even so slightly, it is the worst smell imaginable. Above all smells, and I do mean all, I hate the smell of burnt popcorn.
I propose that burnt popcorn is the worst smell ever to exist in all of existence. The thought of it now makes me cringe and kinda angry. The way it permeates the atmosphere and assaults my nose, frustrates me to my core. But the most aggravating part is that since I don’t eat popcorn, suffering the smell is never a fault of my own. *cough* family, roommates, coworkers *cough*
Confession #2: Since I haven’t been getting out as much as I used to, I may have grown a bit lax in my daily showering and dressing habits. But so what if I stay in my pjs a day or five longer than normal? I’m not going out. I’m not seeing people. I can smell a little, right?
This brings me to Confession #3: For a large portion of my life I haven’t had a proper view of 2 Corinthians. I’ve kind of filed it away as a lesser epistle. But in my subpar defense, the title literally says it’s second, you know silver, first loser, the sequel, so not as good as the first. But it has been the primary tool the Lord is using to get my attention, lead me to repentance, and challenge me as a follower of Jesus during this current season.
In 2 Corinthians, Paul addresses fellow Jesus followers who are facing a difficult season and issues, which rocked their daily lives.…I’m sure you can’t relate but stick with me. His letter evaluates and challenges their response. Toward the end of the second chapter, he reminds,
“…[God] uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God…” 2 Corinthians 2:14-15 NLT
With these confessions, and Paul’s words in mind, I find myself asking, “What aroma am I putting out into the world, even as I shelter in place? What smell is permeating the atmosphere as it rises up to God?” I’ve declared myself a believer, a follower of Jesus. So according to God’s word, I’m to be a ‘sweet perfume’. My life is “a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God.” It is what God “uses to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere…” Wait, everywhere?
I recently took a leave of absence from social media. I didn’t have an online social presence as current events began to impact our daily lives. By the time I ventured back, social distancing was in full swing. I wasn’t slowly ushered into the hot-mess of opinions, amateur science experts, conspiracy theorist, end-times arguments, left and right political backbiting, and all the like that I found with the swipe of my finger. The onslaught was jarring and the smell…well, I know I said burnt popcorn was the worst, but maybe I was wrong.
Like I said, the Lord has been using 2 Corinthians to shake me up, reminding me of His heart and who I am. Paul continues in chapter five,
“For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself… he gave USthis wonderful message of reconciliation…WEare Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through US. WEspeak for Christ when WEplead, ‘Come back to God!’” 2 Corinthians 5:19-20 NLT (emphasis added)
Fellow believers, WE speak for Christ. WE are Christ’s ambassadors. It is through US, you and me, that God is pleading to a world that doesn’t know Him to come back to Him. How easy it has been to forget this. Our presence in this world may look different right now, but let’s not fool ourselves, we are still very much present. Nowhere is this truer than online. For many of us, social distancing has increased our presence in the eyes and ears of others – our aroma is permeating the atmosphere like never before.
Right now, above all, I must remember THE mission. THE top story, that which takes precedence over everything else, even a global pandemic, IS the Gospel. It is the Good News of Jesus Christ. Everything – everything I do right now is God making His appeal THROUGH ME. Every comment, every post, every like, every rant, everything is speaking for Christ. So what am I putting out there? Is it truly a wonderful message of reconciliation? Is it a sweet perfume? A Christ-like fragrance?
Look, I don’t want to place myself in a seat of judgement. I don’t want to climb on a soapbox and point fingers. And I definitely don’t want to contribute to the “you should – you should not” debates. But I do want to remind myself and my fellow brothers and sisters, WE ARE THE FRAGRANCE OF CHRIST. If WE don’t like the smell of our world today, what aroma are WE putting out there? In an effort to have a mindless snack… are we burning the popcorn? Are we permeating the atmosphere for everyone else to suffer the smell? And in doing so, are we becoming greater ambassadors of our own opinions than of our Christ.
Is our message pleading, “Come back to God!” or “Come agree with me!”?
I choose to believe that during this time, we’re all trying to find honest truth and do what is right. I choose to believe this is true of our government leaders, both blue and red. I choose to believe it is true of businesses, billionaires, health organizations, and even media outlets. And I choose to believe that even if I am wrong in this belief, my God has taken into account the fallen state of humanity and will not forsake me.
And because of my conscious choice to believe and trust God, I repent. I repent of contributing to a miserable and assaulting aroma in the world. Genuinely. Wholeheartedly. I repent of the pithy comments, sarcastic memes, soap-box rants, and mic-drop share re-posts intended to feed my prideful ego with a thumbs-up like. I repent. And out of my love for Christ and His Gospel, I hereby confess my commitment, or re-commitment to the wonderful message of reconciliation and to do everything in my power to be a sweet perfume, a Christ-like fragrance, an ambassador that allows God to make His appeal through me. Yes, this is my act of repentance and confession of commitment to stop burning the popcorn.