By: Rev. Brandon Dirks
Do you have the stink of Jesus on you?
The Stinky Dog
One autumn evening a few years ago, Ashton, our family dog, came in from a long romp in our wooded backyard. Immediately, I noticed a strange, sickening smell emanating from his thick coat. I couldn’t quite place it. It wasn’t skunk. It wasn’t animal waste. I wondered if it was dog-sweat, if that is such a thing (sort of like how humans stink after working out??).
We bathed him of course (my wife was having none of that stink in the house!). The next evening, he came back in from doing his “business” with that same stink on him. I couldn’t figure it out. So we bathed him again. And sent him out again the next night…this time I followed.
It didn’t take long. Ashton took off for the back corner of our property where there was a patchy area of grass and leaves near the tree line. Then he did the most amazing thing! He dropped to his side, and rolled. Over and over. Back and forth. He would flip himself, and grind his side, belly, and back into the ground…joyfully kicking his legs this way and that. He would do this for a few minutes…stand up…sniff around…. and do it all over again.
When he was done and happily trotting off, I cautiously walked over to the spot and I saw…nothing! I smelled nothing! To this day, I still have no idea what it was. But clearly, Ashton noticed something. Some of you more experienced animal-people may know what was going on, but I was amazed. He simply found a stink he liked; and, he wanted to stink like it.
Do I Stink?
In “Missional Renaissance,” Reggie McNeal asks if we Christians have the “stink of Jesus on us.” The stink? The more I think about this vivid image, the more it has captured my attention as a goal of discipleship—to be so much like Jesus that people notice our “Jesus-ness.” We stand out. We speak different. We act different. We have a different hope. We love recklessly. We are different.
Can people tell you are a follower of Jesus without you ever having to say anything? Can they tell by your actions? Your tone? Your pace? Your awareness? Your compassion? Your reactions? Your “stink?”
I think the clearest way we can tell if we have the stink of Jesus on us is how we ‘react’ to circumstances in our lives. It’s easy following Jesus at church. It’s easy being faithful to God when we have time. It’s easy to find time to help others when we aren’t busy. It’s easy to give money when we have extra. It’s easy to be patient when traffic is smooth and other drivers are courteous; when work projects are successful; and when the doctor gives a clean bill of health. It’s even easy to stand up against injustice when it doesn’t cost us much. This is not Jesus stink. This is Jesus-ish.
But what about when “life” happens? Do we have the stink of Jesus on us when we face the cross and are asked to carry it? When the water heater breaks? When we get passed over for promotion? When we argue with our spouse? When we get cut off in traffic? When your son forgets his homework or your daughter forgets to put away her clothes? Do we have the stink of Jesus on us when we are in a rush at the grocery store, when the waiter doesn’t fill our water glass in time…?
You see, the flavor of our stink is most clear in the ways we react when life doesn’t go the way we want. Our reactions give our stink away. What stink is on you?
If you are not happy with the way you stink, maybe you need to roll around in, and dig into, and grind yourself onto those time-tested, people-shaping, stink causing spiritual practices…worship, prayer, small groups, scripture reading, fasting and serving others.
“We are fools for the sake of Christ…” 1 Corinthians 4:10a