Saturday, July 25, 2015

Considering the lilies: Divisions and Unifying Fragrance




"Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the  grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith!                                            (Luke 12:27-28 NASB)

The lily series has continued a little longer than I expected. I've found another nugget of truth, so we're here for one more day. At least. We began this series by considering the lily bulb lily propagation, and lily's disposition, and true lilies and the importance of the name. Yesterday, we considered the importance of planting the lily bulb deep in the ground.  Today, we look at the different varieties of lilies.

We learned a few days ago that not every flower bearing the name of lily is actually a lily. Water lilies and  day lilies are not true lilies. Of the true lilies, there are nine different varieties. (If you're interested in horticulture, you can find the varieties here.

Although all nine varieties are distinct and recognizable in their division, their similarities mark them as lilies. According to gardening.about.com, "What they all share is a certain elegance of form and sweetness of fragrance." (1)

Elegance of form and sweetness of fragrance are characteristics that should be the common thread running through the different "varieties" of Christians, as well.

Before we continue in the "fragrance" analogy, we need to remember one important fact. The first century church was one church, not multiple denominations. The differences were in location, not in theology. The Apostle Paul, among others, wrote letters that were circulated among the churches in an effort to preserve the doctrine and keep it consistent.

We won't be divided by denominations in heaven. No one is likely to care if we were Baptist or Presbyterian or Assembly of God when we enter eternity. The question that will matter then will be "Is Jesus your Lord?" 

With that said, we have divided ourselves into denominations based on interpretations of Scripture and nuances of doctrine. It is not my intent to argue doctrine. There are good points in every denomination, as well as arguable points. 

There is one Christ and He is the only point that matters.

Jesus is what should remain when divisional strife is swept away. If we follow Him, He should be the most important, unifying factor. He is to the Christian church what the genus Lilium is to the the varieties of lily.

Now, back to the question of fragrance. Lilies have a fragrance that is distinct and is unlike the fragrance of roses or hyacinths. It's distinct to lilies. 

In that same way, disciples of Christ should have "the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him". (2 Cor.2:14) 


 For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death; to the other an aroma from life to life." (2 Corinthians 2:15-16 NASB)

Knowing Jesus should make such a difference in our lives that we are recognizable as belonging to Him. 

He should unify us with His fragrance. What is His fragrance? Get ready for this. It's not what you expect. It's sacrifice. 

The aroma of Christ is sacrificing Himself to the will of God.

Yeah. Who expected that? I considered the aroma of Christ to be love, fruits of the spirit. Anything but sacrifice. 

"Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma." (Ephesians 5:2 NASB)

Jesus gave Himself up for us because of His love but it is the sacrifice of Himself, the offering of His life,  that is the fragrant aroma.

If we want the aroma of Christ, we must live sacrificial lives, just as Christ lived. We must sacrifice our desires to have God's desires for us. We must sacrifice our goals to attain His goals. Our priorities must become His.

When we sacrifice our will to His will, an amazing thing will happen. We will begin to sacrifice ourselves for those He loves. Sacrificial service. Sacrificial giving. Sacrificial love. It won't be about "us" anymore. Everything we do, everything we give, everything we sacrifice will be motivated by love. 

People will know. We won't have to say a word. Because sacrifice is rare. It's shocking. Sacrifice is scandalous. Give up ourselves for the less fortunate? Love those who have wounded us? Forgive those who have offended us? It's sacrifice that the world cannot understand. 

But Jesus does. Because He set the standard for shocking, scandalous sacrifice. He took it to the extreme when He presented Himself as a blood sacrifice on the cross. For me. For you.

There's no way I will ever be that sacrificial, but I can make a start. Have Your will in my life, Lord, is where it begins. So, we make a start. We begin today to make a small sacrifice of time, or money, or love, or will. Make a small, Jesus-like sacrifice and begin to live scandalously.

Begin to live like Christ and keep living like Him until you are so infused with His love and His sacrifice that everyone who meets you will say, "There's Jesus in her, in him." 

Be the aroma of Christ.
~~~~~~~
Our Father, who art in Heaven, holy is your name in all the earth. Our Lord Jesus, you are the sacrifice that makes our lives possible. Create in me a heart to live like you, sacrificing myself to your will, your way. In Jesus' name. Amen.
















(1)http://gardening.about.com/od/bulbs/a/Growing_Lilies.htm

photo from freeimages.com