Monday, October 01, 2012

What do Christians smell like?

I was born and raised in church.
I went to church camp as a kid. Sunday school every week.
I've never really been "bad". I don't have a gritty story or history to tell.
Most of my life has been pretty squeaky clean.

I know how Christians look - clean cut, tidy, modest.
How Christians act - kind, courteous, polite, respectful.
How they talk - clean language, nothing too harsh or abrasive.
How they dress - nice for church on Sunday morn, with men in a button down shirt and women in a flattering dress, sensible heels, and cute jewelry. Respectable the rest of the week.
How they smell - freshly showered, deodorant, laundry detergent, hair products, as if they've just walked out of their suburban house.

But lately God has been challenging me on this.
These ideas in my head of a Christian are old. They're the old Christians. The ones who've lived lives like mine.
Not old in years, necessarily. But old enough in the church to know how they're "supposed" to present themselves.
These are the people I've associated with, hung out with, made friends with.
These are the people I relate to and am comfortable with.

But what about young Christians? Or those who haven't even become Christians yet?
What about those who don't have a squeaky clean past? What about those with a dirty muddy history?
What about those with tattoos? Stringy hair? Piercings? Greasy clothes?
The scarred? The toothless?
What about the ones who smell of a hangover on Sunday morning?
Who stand outside grabbing one more cigarette before church starts?
The ones who don't look or smell like what my idea of a "clean wholesome Christian" should look or smell like?

Am I more capable of showing love than others?
Am I more deserving of receiving love than others?

Did Jesus only hang out and associate with the squeaky clean people? Those who looked shiny and smelled of fabric softener?
Absolutely not. I think he might have even been partial to the smelly ones.

Not only did he associate with them, he touched them! Hugged them. Dined with them.
Loved on them. Served them. And celebrated them!
The least of these.
And in reality, I am one of those least, as well.

He didn't hang out in the newly built church buildings strictly on Sunday morning, singing quietly along with 3-4 hymns before sitting comfortably for a 30 minute sermon.
Instead he got down and dirty.

To be a "Christian" literally means to be Christ-like.

I'm learning.
I'm fairly certain that Jesus probably didn't smell too great either. No Irish Spring or Dial. No hair gel. Robes worn for weeks or months.
Just stinky and willing to serve. Teach. Love.
I'm discovering that Christians don't necessarily have to smell clean.

(The photos are from a community event from the weekend. Three local churches volunteered their time and talents to serve - Servolution. There were free oil changes, free spa treatments, free car washes, free meals, free activities for kids, a free concert. All in an effort to simply show love through serving. No questions asked. Needn't be squeaky clean to attend or serve. Just simply be present and show God's love to our community. I was blessed to be the photographer for the event.)


.....Elizabeth..... Polka Dot Skies said...

Great post, Beki! I read it with an open mind and open heart! Thank you!
xo Elizabeth

rentz said...

Wish I could have gone. Looks like fun! And great words too!

Unknown said...

Awesome! And, I know the lady in the first picture! I used to work with her in Wichita. She is the sweetest lady. I forgot her name though :(.

The church we went to in Wichita does a Servolution too. It was a ton of fun. We cleaned up the police and fire stations, passed out water bottles (it was July and very hot) and we helped clean up some neighborhoods and even put siding on a family's house! We had free food and concert after. They also do a monthly outreach at the homeless shelter. I love hearing about churches actually getting out there and helping and "doing" instead of just "saying".

Katherine said...

Love this idea! It's so great that you guys were able to do something practical and special for people. My car has needed an oil change for WAY too long...but we just haven't have the money to get it done. What a great service.
Meeting people where they need to be met.

The Sieberts said...

so awesome! i found out about it too late to go...hope its a yearly thing!

Amy said...

So glad you were able to be a part of this! It looks amazing!

Brittany SSP said...

I really love this post. I grew up in an "Old Christian" environment (my grandma's southern Baptist church) but despite this, I am more of a "new Christian." My husband was in the military and while we are young, that environment is fairly "dirty" and tends to mature you. My faith in Jesus is still very much intact, but my comfort zone is no longer those pretty clean churches where viewpoints tend to be very black & white. The Servolution project looks like a great way to get out and get dirty like Jesus =)

Leslie Veer said...

There is a verse in James that helps me keep balance in this area: "pure religion before God is to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unspotted by the world." It's not always easy to BOTH.

HeARTworks said...

What a great project and I am sure it was fun too! Patsy from
HeARTworks and

the PaperCraftLady said...

This was an awesome post... beautiful prose, wonderful idea, and generous folks!

(I do not have a blog yet. I feel self-centered posting my etsy shop, I did that before I really knew what your blog was all about.)