Mission Field Metaphors (3)
Welcome to the PMF Workshop for December 2023. I’m your host, T. M. Moore. Each month we provide teaching, encouragement, activities, and resources to help you in working your Personal Mission Field so that you can become more consistent and effective in realizing the presence, promise, and power of God’s Kingdom in your daily life.
In this series we’re looking at metaphors that can help us think about our work in our Personal Mission Field. A particularly potent metaphor is suggested by the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 2.15, 16: “For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things?” As the aroma of Jesus spreads out from us to others, they will sense something different, something they rarely experience. Let’s see if we can figure out what being the fragrance of Christ involves.
It wasn’t long after Mary poured a vial of perfume over Jesus’ feet that people in the house would have begun to detect a sweet aroma (Jn. 12.1-8; cf. Matt. 26.6-13). Undoubtedly, many folks thought to themselves, or perhaps commented across a plate of food to a friend, “Mmmm, what’s that wonderful smell?” They might have gone looking for the source of it, and, if they did, they would have seen Jesus, with Mary wiping His feet with her hair.
Jesus described Mary’s action as a beautiful work. It focused attention on Him and filled the home with a pleasant aroma. People could not help but notice it, and I suspect that, for a long time after, whenever they smelled the fragrance of spikenard or maybe encountered Mary in the marketplace, they might have thought of Jesus.
Aromas are attention-getters. They arrest our olfactory nerves and can delight us in many ways.
We should be like that. How we live, the way we relate to others, our conversations, attention, gestures, and good works should arrest people’s attention and impact them in positive ways. Peter says that, when people see the hope that is within us, they will ask a reason for it. We might say that when they catch a whiff of the sweetness of Jesus, they might be inclined to learn more about Him.
For our purposes, the metaphor that comes to mind is a diffuser. I have often used one in times of prayer or solitude to invoke the Presence of Jesus by using a mixture of aloe, myrrh, and cassia oils (cf. Ps. 45.8). The fragrance builds slowly until in pervades the whole room, and I am gloriously caught up in communing with the Lord in a way that makes me more aware of His Presence.
In a diffuser such as I use, you put a few drops of oil into a dish of water and light a candle under it. The heat from the flame warms the water, which excites the molecules of the oil and releases their aroma into the environment.
Our Personal Mission Field can be filled with the fragrance of Jesus as we diffuse the grace of the Lord into all the “as-you-are-goings” of our life. People will not detect the scent of myrrh, cassia, and aloe when we’re near, but they should encounter something different from their normal contacts, something that feels welcoming, interested, concerned, loving, pure, and true. The hope we have in Jesus should be palpable in our demeanor, conversations, and even our countenance. Peter says that when people see that hope—when they detect the aroma of Jesus in us—they will ask a reason for it: “You seem so at peace and so caring. What makes you this way?”
If we diffuse the hope we have in Jesus into every situation, we will be more likely to exude the aroma of the Lord that brings delight to people and creates openness to learning more.
But not everyone will find the aroma of Jesus to be to their liking. To some, rather than our conduct and conversation being a sweet aroma from life to life, they will detect the odor of death to death. We recall that Judas was offended by Mary’s act, even though Jesus described it as beautiful. The aroma of spikenard emanating from Jesus was welcomed by many, but it was an offense to others, especially Judas. It ran contrary to his way of thinking, thwarted his plans, and frustrated his duplicitous lifestyle.
The Gospel and the aroma of Jesus will strike some of the people as an odor of death to death. But when that is the case, don’t despair. You’re simply realizing what Jesus did and Paul promised we all would as we diffuse the aroma of Jesus into our world.
Begin each day in prayer. Put on the Lord Jesus Christ in your thoughts and plans. Pray about every person and situation ahead of you, and you’ll be more likely to diffuse the aroma of Jesus as you are going throughout your Personal Mission Field.
Here are some activities you can practice and resources to help you in working your Personal Mission Field.
- Again, make sure your Personal Mission Field is updated, and you have included in your Personal Mission Field worksheet any new people God has brought into your sphere. Keep your map with you, so you can take it out and pray for the people you see throughout the day.
- My diffuser only works when it has a flame under it. Prayer is the flame that connects you to Jesus. Work hard to improve in praying about everything, praying with thanksgiving, and praying without ceasing. Keep the flame of prayer going to help you diffuse the aroma of Jesus.
- How can you show more interest in the people you see each day? Make a list of questions you would like someone to ask you, then use those questions with the people in your Personal Mission Field. They will detect the aroma of Jesus in you as you take a more active interest in them.
- Go to our bookstore and order a copy of our book, Small Stuff. Here you’ll be encouraged to consider how every small thing in your life—gestures, helps, and conversations—can be used by God to diffuse the aroma of Jesus into your Personal Mission Field. Order your free copy by clicking here.
- Need a refresher on grace and its power to work in your life? Go to our bookstore and order a copy of our book, Grace for Your Time of Need.
That’s it for this month’s Personal Mission Field Workshop. Until next month, for the Fellowship of Ailbe, this has been T. M. Moore.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.