“How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?” Ps. 137:4
I carefully untwisted the lid, placed the vial close to my nose and took a quick sniff. The label said it was orange scented. The next one was gardenia scented and the next cinnamon roll. Vial after vial of scented oils. Even the religiously labeled frankincense fragrance smelled like intertwining indiscernible fragrances.
I discovered that day that I don’t have a very discerning sniffer; they all smelled the same to me.
There is a wonderful bakery in my neighborhood. When I walk into those doors there is a fragrance that permeates the place. The aroma of cinnamon rolls baking hits my nostrils and I know that smell did not come from an aerosol can.
When it’s the real thing you don’t have to label it, you don’t have to try to be it; it just is without knowing or understanding how. The baker knows the discipline of putting ingredients together in a proper order, what are proper amounts, appropriate temperature and time for baking.
But I just know the product by its aroma.
Discerning the fake from reality is sometimes very easy, and sometimes it is difficult. Because of either my weak faith or my strong ego I have often tried to fake living what I say I believe. I think I’m getting better at living out my love of God in the world around me, but I at least now admit it is a lifelong process.
Learning to live my life as a follower of Christ is not easy. Learning means change, and change is hard. Inherent in change means giving up something I like or that is comfortable or that seems easy. Often faking it is the easier path.
Learning to live is the monogram for wrestling with the question that those who went through the Babylonian captivity wrestled with as described in Psalm 137:4. How do we sing the songs of the Lord in this foreign land? How do we live out what it is to be a follower of Christ in a world that doesn’t particularly embrace our worldview?
What we are learning is that if you endeavor to be a follower of Jesus and be transformed into his image, then, like a wise baker there is a proper order to the process. The Latin phrase cum primis speaks of it; first things first. We are coming to learn how to first listen for the intimate voice of the Father, then share together out of the overflow of that voice. We learn to love those the Father has put in our lives just as Jesus loves them, without reciprocity.
From the overflow of love we will naturally sing the songs of the Lord in a foreign land. It won’t be a campaign or program or crusade. We learn to live naturally and organic. It will emanate as an aroma of authentic love.
“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. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” 2 Cor. 2:14-15