OK -- yesterday I smelled bad. I was at a baseball game and it got really hot and humid and I smelled like, uh, something bad.
Today it's more of a sweet smell. I think I'm still smelling how great my wife smells when I hug her.
And with that whole smelly thing in my mind, I wrote the most recent "Opening the Bible" blog entry at i.ucc. It's called "Fragrant."
I've been on a number of summer youth trips in my lifetime. Those trips give the word "fragrant" a different kind of connotation than the "fragrant offering" written about in this week's Bible passage.
In Ephesians 4:25-5:2, there's a call for people to be kind to one another. It's the kind of talk I've heard and the kind of thing I've often said when I've been part of a group of youth or adults who seem to be looking for reasons to argue with each other. Sometimes the arguments go further than simple disagreements. Feelings get hurt, tears stream, and people feel wounded for a long time.
I know -- on the trips I've been a part of we don't start kicking, biting, hitting or harming anyone physically. I know that it can be much much worse. I don't think this passage is addressing people who are at war, however. I think it's addressing people who are bickering and fighting and arguing and behaving poorly when it comes to loving one another.
Consider Ephesians 4:29: Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.
Or how about 4:31-32: Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.
I've seen people behave poorly when it comes to loving one another in the past. I'm sure I'll see it again. I'm sure I've behave poorly in the past and will again in the future. I've acted " fragrantly" in a way that really stinks.
There is a better way to live, however. It simply makes sense. Be kind to one another and stop putting the anger and hate in front of love.
I think that smells a whole lot sweeter.