“A contact sport.” When I saw this theme for a United Methodist Men’s national gathering, I thought to myself: “Blog.” “The practice of discipleship is a ‘contact sport’ and cannot be ignored,” explained the event’s organizers. “Most members of the United Methodist Church can recite the mission statement of our church… What appears to be missing in many places is a systematic way within local churches to make disciples that are transforming the world.” This is certainly a challenge for each man reading this blog, including myself.
Being a former high school “jock” (Class of ’59), I think of the smell of sweat when I think of contact sports. That sent me to II Cor. 2:15: “Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume” (II Cor. 2:15).
So, what kind of aroma do we give off in our relationships? “As the gospel aroma is released in the world through Christian testimony, it is always sweet-smelling, even though it may be received differently. Ultimately there are two kinds of people: those who are being saved and those who are perishing” (NIVSB).
Here are four observations about aroma (sweat) and men. First, we need to know Jesus personally. If we are to be the aroma of Christ, Christ must be absorbed through relationship. Facts and methods will not do the job. We need to have an open spirit so Jesus can pour His presence (and aroma) into us. Only then can we give off the aroma of Christ. You can’t fake it; it has to be real.
Second, when I think of how men are brought to Jesus, it is usually through another man or a group of men. There is something that is assimilated or absorbed that opens a man’s heart to God. It was true for me. As a younger man, I was drawn to men who simply had Christ’s presence about them. They were giving off the aroma of Christ without knowing it.
Third, find a group of men that “gives off the aroma” of Christ. This is especially important. Remember, masculinity is not something that is primarily taught; it is rather caught and assimilated. A group of men committed to Jesus, wanting to be honest and transparent, and willing to reach out to a “wounded” brother*, can mean the difference between life and death in a man’s life.
Fourth, there is something powerful about a group of guys who have worked up a good sweat, giving all they have for a good cause. That is how brotherhood and unity are built. Picture a group of guys that senses, “in the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ” (II Cor. 2;14 MGS). Wow! This is real “mojo!”
Men, take it from me: You are going to smell like something. With all your heart, desire to give off the aroma of Christ. Think of a group of guys doing the same thing. I picture a football team coming out together to start the game, running through the smoke, with flags and cheerleaders urging them on.
That’s who we are. We are going into the conflict already knowing that we are ultimately going to win. We want other men, even “wounded” soldiers*, to join in that “triumphal procession.
* See: Rescuing a Brother, Dec. 21, 2020