Sunday, March 6, 2011
Love That Lingers
“I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes.” That’s Harry discovering, after twelve years of friendship, the fragrance of something more powerful than perfume lingers with him when he spends time with Sally. Classic movie.
When we are exposed to love, evidence of it lingers in our lives like an aroma. Its fragrance is so powerful, it permeates everything in and around us. Like a scent, it cannot be avoided and its presence is undeniable. The more powerful the love, the more powerfully it lingers with us.
I think that’s where God’s lessons were headed when he began instructing Moses on how to build His tabernacle. In the desert, God was beginning an education that endures today – that we are his people and He is our God. God would dwell with his tribe in His Tabernacle. And in the building of that holy place of God’s presence, there was a lesson in every direction, every design and every detail. In Exodus 30, God instructs Moses to build an altar of incense. It was to be placed just before THE curtain that enclosed the Ark of the Covenant. It was here that God would meet with Moses. The incense, God said, must burn continually before the Lord for generations to come.
So what’s the unwritten implication here? If one stands immediately before the Lord, the aroma of incense will be on, in and around them. And with the aroma of incense lingering with them, everyone who encounters that person will know that they have been before the presence of the Lord. They will know because the aroma of incense cannot be avoided, and its distinct scent is undeniable. Thus the assurance of the presence of the Lord is carried to all people.
The cool thing is, that the incense, the aroma of the love of God, does burn continually before the Lord for generations. It burns even for those of us who never followed the Tabernacle in the desert.
Fast-forward a few generations to a few unfortunate Hebrews living in exile, for example. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were ordered to be thrown into a blazing furnace for the offense of refusing to bow to a false god. They were indeed thrown in, but they believed that God would save them from the flames. And when these guys walked out, unscathed, from this impossible situation, they did so apparently with “no smell of fire on them” (Daniel 3:27). They didn’t carry the aroma of death. They were in the presence of life. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego walked out with the aroma of life - the assurance of the presence of the Lord – lingering with them.
Fast-forward a few generations more when God sends us His Son. The sovereignty of this Son cannot be missed when incense is delivered to his presence as a child, poured over his feet as a man, and brought to his tomb when he was thought defeated by death. But Jesus defeated death. And by the power of His love on the cross, he established a new Tabernacle. Remember, the more powerful the love, the more powerfully it lingers with us.
We are the new Tabernacle. The presence of the Lord, the Holy Spirit, now lives within the hearts of those who believe. Our faith is the incense before the presence of the Lord burning continually for the benefit of generations to come. And as we embrace our place in the tribe, giving sovereignty to the Lord over our hearts, we will carry with us love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal. 5:22). The aroma of God will be lingering on us, continually reminding us, and all those we encounter, of the assurance of His Love now and forevermore.
“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.”
2 Corinthians 2:14