My wife, Michelle, works at a local café. She and the other servers say that the Sunday, after-church crowd are some of their least favorite to serve. Why? Their manner, message and method stink. They can be demanding. They can treat their servers coldly or disrespectfully. They can lack polite manners. They can barely tip, or not at all. The worst is when then behave like that, and then leave a Gospel tract on the table. What is your aroma?
The aroma of Jesus should impacts Christians’ manner, message and method.
The manner is the sweet-smelling fragrance of the Fruit of the Spirit, the method is the pursuit of justice, and the message is content of the good news describing the hope we have for abundant life now and eternal life after death because of Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection.
In other words, we strive for our relationships with people in the community to have sweet-smelling content, sweet-smelling tone, and sweet-smelling actions. When we share the Gospel we pay close attention to our manner, message and method.
We see this multi-faceted emphasis in what is called Jesus’ Great Commission in Matthew 28:16-20,
“Jesus came to his disciples and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
The task that Jesus gave us is to make disciples, teaching them to follow him and his ways. The process of making disciples, therefore, cannot simply be sharing of content. It cannot simply be teaching, like a sermon, or a Bible study in a classroom, or a person on a sidewalk proclaiming a message. Those can be helpful, if done in the sweet-smelling Fruit of the Spirit way.
But notice that there is a transformative aspect to the process of discipleship that Jesus wants us to follow. Disciples are people who actually do what Jesus would do if he were living our lives. Disciples are people who strive to live like Jesus. That means disciples are people who are walking in step with the spirit, growing the Fruit of the Spirit in their lives, and helping others do the same.
Remember that first we need to see the people in our community. Ask God to help you look around more, and to do so with eyes and a heart of love. Ask God to heal your heart of judgment. Ask God to give you his heart that sees and knows especially those in need in the community. Ask him to give you his heart to sacrificially serve the needs you see.
Think about your relationships with people in the community, how do you smell? What fruit are you striving to grow in your interactions in the community? Who are you helping to grow the Fruit of the Spirit, and how are you helping them grow that fruit? By helping people grow the Fruit of the Spirit in their lives, you are helping them not only believe in Jesus, but actually become more like him.
That’s why you and I need to walk in step with the Spirit, be filled with the Spirit, allowing the Spirit to grow his Fruit in our lives first and continually. Then we strive to help the people in our lives do the same. Along with this comes the wonderful hope of eternal life. But I would recommend that we emphasize the availability of the abundant life of Jesus now, which is a life lived flowing with the Fruit of the Spirit.
That aroma, even if people say, “Not for me,” is undeniably pleasing.