I am sure that most of the men who read this blog have had some quality time with family during this holiday season. I wonder how it has gone for each of you? We always joke about our family relationships during our wildman gatherings. This joking is really a reflection on the stress and even the pain of family relationships. (Again, I use the word “pain” to point us to our hearts.) Yet I don’t know of a better situation for a wildman to “the aroma of Christ.” Paul tells us that we are, “the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing” (II Cor. 2:15). The Message puts it this way: “Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation – an aroma redolent with life.”
To be the aroma or the fragrance of Christ in your family relationships means to simply be the presence of Jesus. I want you to know, men, that is not as simple as that sounds. When we are the aroma of Christ we are to be reflecting in some small measure the very character of Christ in very personal relationships, that can be stressful at times. The more stress, the more aroma we should be giving off. The measure of a wildman in family relationships is the grace to just be who you are in Jesus. For me it can at times be a continual turning of my heart to Jesus and asking for the grace to just stay there and reflect something of aroma of Christ. Ps 27:8 is key for me. “My heart says of you, ‘Seek his face!’ Your face, Lord, I will seek.” Instead of turning in on myself in stressful circumstances, I pray for grace to turn my heart’s attention to Jesus. There are times when I get my focus off of the Lord. Then I begin to “stink.” But I know that does not happen to you guys.
Another practice that has helped me over the years in family relationships, is to take the posture of a servant. That means to the best of my ability I want to put others ahead of myself. For me this has been a hit and miss proposition. But my best intentions are to give rather then to receive. So my first thought should be other’s needs and desires. My attention should be on them and not myself. Listen to the way the Message portrays the attitude we should have as servants in our families. “This is the kind of life you’re been invited into, the kind of life Christ lived. He suffered everything that came his way so you would know that it could be done, and also know how to do it, step-by-step. He never did one thing wrong. Not once said anything amiss. They called him every name in the book and he said nothing back. He suffered in silence, content to let God set things right.” ( I Peter 21-23)
The last part of these words from Peter will test any wildman during a family gathering. We are told that the way of Christ means that we do not say anything back and remain silent, knowing that God will take care of our reputation and place in the family. That is a tall order for us, men. But that is a part of being that “fragrance of Christ.” I want to close with the last verse of this chapter from the Message. “He used his servant body to carry our sins to the Cross so we could be rid of sin, free to live the right way. His wounds became your healing. You were lost sheep with no idea who you were or where you were going. Now you’re named and kept for good by the Shephard of your souls” (I Peter 2:24-25). Men, learn to monitor your heart when you are with family. Allow yourself to “taste” your pain. Remember that Jesus took that pain to the cross so that you could be healed. In that healing you will become more the “fragance of Christ” with your family.