I smell a rat

“Can you smell that?”

A number of noses joined in with their sniffing powers we all agreed we could smell something horrid. This smell wasn’t meant to be in our house. It wasn’t there before and we could not carry on regardless of it. We had to locate it and deal with it. By the end of this smelly chapter of our life we had ripped partition walls down, pulled out all the loft insulation, filled in every cracked hole wherever it was, sent cameras down the drains and repaired the broken pipes that the extension of our house had been built upon. We laboured hard and it cost us a lot but we caught him and his family! Apparently we are only 10 feet away from a rat at any one time in the UK. Is it possible to get used to the smell of a rat?

Well, it is possible to get used to your own smell.

I went into a church building before lockdown and it hit me as I walked in, the smell. It was that damp, stale odour of a building that perhaps hadn’t been opened for years, except they had just met the day before. They had got used to the smell. I said to the Pastor, “What’s that smell?” he said, “What smell?”

You wouldn’t dream of leaving your home without first washing, would you? You would never go to a friend’s house stinking to high heaven because you couldn’t be bothered to have a wash that day, would you?

The problem is people who don’t wash get used to their own smell. Their stinky, pongy, stained smell becomes to them au naturel. Everyone needs someone who will say ‘My friend, I love you so much I need to tell you, you stink.’

Let’s see what the Apostle says, “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5 v1-2

Pause for a moment. Think of the fragrant offering in relation to the Old Testament system. When a sacrifice was offered on an altar, the odour of the burning meat went up to heaven and the god to whom the sacrifice was offered was supposed to feast upon that odour. In the Jewish Synagogues they too used this system and a sacrifice which had the odour of a fragrance was especially pleasing and acceptable to God.

Paul uses this of the sacrifice Jesus brought to God. It was a life of perfect obedience to the Father and perfect love to men, so perfect that he went to the cross.

The Apostle says, ‘Copy God’. And if you wish to imitate God and to imitate the sacrifice which Jesus made, you can only do it by loving people in the same way Jesus loved at the cross.

Love is fragrant.

A building may have a stale smell and that can be fixed but what of the smell of the Church’s heart? Do they love each other? Do they love their community?

There are smells in churches that should never be there.

Is there bickering? Divisions and fall-outs? I wonder how many people would say they got hurt by Church?

Everyone needs a friend to say, ‘my friend you stink, stop it, tone it down, shut your mouth.’

The Church coming out of lockdown needs to smell better than when it went into this strange season.

So climb down from the high horse.

Humble yourselves.

Lay your life down.

Pay the price.

Where is the sacrifice gone from the Church?

Let’s love and love loud.

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