Body Odor

Last week I had several incidents of being around really strident, arrogant believers.  Here are a few examples.

  • I sat speechless in my living room while a dogmatic charismatic hammered on about how the only way to be a Christian mirrored the way he believes and smashed everything outside of his little box as inferior to God’s will.  What he doesn’t see is the relational damage that occurs around him as people try to give him more grace than he will give them.  As an example, his adult daughter will not even tell him the name of the church she attends because she already knows that he will be critical.
  • The following evening in a casual gathering of believers from various church backgrounds, a reformed gentleman got himself so worked up over invalidating what others shared and proving right belief that he basically blew up the meeting.  While others in the meeting want to embrace him in the fellowship, he makes it really difficult to do so.
  • From the website of our CLB, “God’s intent is for the church to demonstrate to the world what the kingdom of God is like.  As we grow in our understanding of the kingdom, our mission is to be like Christ by representing the character of Christ in our thoughts and actions, our families, and our daily lives as ambassadors of the kingdom.” Sounds amazing doesn’t it?  Except people in the community would not remotely recognize this as describing the group.  We continue to encounter people dealing with the aftermath of involvement with these “kingdom people.” There is nothing about their exclusive reputation, insular nature, and divisive behavior that demonstrates their supposedly advanced maturity.

What I don’t get is why so often those who claim most loudly to be on the inside track of the deeper christian life are also the ones most likely to be considered asses by everyone else.  Their claim is “we are the only ones who are really doing it right,” yet their reputation does not reflect that in any way.

At what point can we be deluded into thinking that it doesn’t matter that instead of the aroma of Christ we have body odor?

What to do?  I suppose you don’t tell someone they have body odor. I wonder if the attitude of superiority is what prevents them from seeing that everyone around them backs up a step. Hopefully at some point the fruit of the Holy Spirit will become evident in their life and the aroma of Christ will overpower the body odor. 

It is sadly interesting that this condition afflicts the people who claim to have the inside track of the one and only way to truth and church life or whatever. With this depth of knowledge and understanding, one would expect that they would demonstrate in their manner a deeper knowing and reflection of the nature of Christ.

This should be obvious, but I’m going to say it anyway…

If we represent Jesus, it isn’t okay if people think we’re an ass.


15 thoughts on “Body Odor

  1. It is sadly interesting that this condition afflicts the people who claim to have the inside track of the one and only way to truth and church life or whatever. With this depth of knowledge and understanding, one would expect that they would demonstrate in their manner a deeper knowing and reflection of the nature of Christ.

    After much posting on emergent message forums & interacting with all manner of saint it becomes quickly obvious that differing theological POVs from the majority of Church expressions does not a better Christian make…

    If there were such a thing as a corner-on-the-market of faith+practice that makes for more grace available & more sanctification tangible, that faith tradition or denomination would be at the front of the pack making a greater impact for the kingdom. A simple observation indicates there are no such repositories of more grace or favor or unction or transformation available to the common saint in the pew unless it is the one they have accepted as the most untarnished version…

    The Roman Catholic & Orthodox claims of sacramental grace & the pureness of apostolic tradition & right practice in worship trumps anything the Protestant denominations can assert, yet the regular Sunday going saint is no more ‘fruitful’ than their Protestant brethren. And the charismatic/Pentecostal types with their big emphasis on being “filled with the Holy Spirit” do not exhibit any greater ‘Jesusness’ than their non-charismatic brethren do. They may act differently, have a different ‘spritualese’ vocabulary, but really now, is there any greater measure of transformation recognized by those on the outside looking in?

    grace: you have a greater constitution than I. I could not have endured the incidents you opened up this topic with. “Body Order.” Yeah. It is a common malady all saints suffer from. Some BO worse than others I suppose. Religious arrogance the worst form of odious spiritual hygiene. And it comes in all shapes & sizes in every saint whether we recognize our own stench or not.

    Now only if the super spiritual marketing types could invent a “Brand XX Foo-Foo” deodorant for all church goers to use before coming into contact with other saints. Maybe then the incidents like you mentioned could be minimized by the heavy cloud of spray dispensed from every saint pointing their cans at those other smelly types stinking up the room… :)

  2. 1 Corinthians 13 (New International Version)

    1 Corinthians 13
    1If I speak in the tongues[a] of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames,[b] but have not love, I gain nothing.
    4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

    8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

    13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

  3. When the kind of self-righteousness that you describe is present I think it is almost mission impossible for the people spouting forth to hear anything about their true condition. I am always amazed at how the pharisees could not hear anything that Jesus said. It gives me comfort, though. If He couldn’t get through to them, I shouldn’t be surprised we can’t get through to them either.

    Your post brought to mind something from a video I recently watched (one that Jonathon posted on his blog) of Peter Rollins where he talks about creating a suspended place. I just love the term and the concept.

  4. The Abbess (no, that’s not a picture of me 8) ) wonders where the “hands” and “feet” are and why they don’t walk the body into the shower?

    I also believe that BO is basically the result of poor diet and other health related issues….

  5. Ya, pride stinks. It can be a challenge to perservere through the stench. How do you embrace a divisive person into community? Good luck with that one. I have no clue. :)

    Peggy, you are onto something with the “poor diet” and “health related issues.” Good stuff.

  6. This flows with my ‘ah-ha’ moment this week. So many Christians think they have all the essentials of the Christian faith figured out. But they skip over one of the big essentials – Unity. There is so much scriptural support for unity, but it gets sacrificed for all sorts of petty differences that have minuscule scriptural support in comparison. We need to remember that Unity is an essential, and approach these other smaller divisive issues with humility, love, and DEODORANT! :)

  7. I just found this post via “Daily Scribe”. Your timing was perfect, as it comes just prior to one I wrote about Balaam’s, um, donkey…

    Peace, Pistol Pete

  8. jonathan,
    It’s a good mental picture for me.

    I am quite aware of my own need for deodorant too.

    Maybe we are supposed to appreciate the “behinds” in the body.

    Exactly, we should reflect that love, and I should extend that love to those I find difficult to love.

    I saw that also and love the idea of being in a space where all differences and agendas are set aside as we embrace one another in the unity of Christ.

    peggy and sarah,
    How the rest of the body handles this is difficult in the face of the superiority and the unwillingness to listen. But yeah, basically it is a result of eating from the wrong tree.

    So true, we have underestimated the desire that Jesus and the Father have for unity within the body.

    Great to see you. You used the word “ass”?! I’m shocked.

  9. Jesus had to deal with hyper-religious people. They are the ones who actually crucified Him. And they’re still crucifying Him today.

    There’s a big difference between being religious and being a follower of Jesus. The follower obeys His Word, which includes the command to love your neighbor as yourself.

    Perhaps the shtinky religious folks are your mission field. I have a deep personal need to keep my distance from them. I find that they have the ability to suck the life out of me, just as a hot dry desert can suck the life out of me.

    Apparently, these folks hang out around churches and Christians because they fit right in. No one else will put up with them.

  10. sam,
    We are bound to lose the fragrance of Christ if we only hang around other Christians.

    Hi Paula,
    Nice to meet you.

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