God created us, and he gave us at least five senses to be able to get to know Him through His creation. He gave us abilities to see, hear, touch, taste and smell. And God gave His people work to do, primarily to obey Him and reflect His character.
For the sense of sight, he wants us to be light – like He was in the world. His light can be revealed in us. Light is something that exposes darkness, and causes growth – as in the process of photosynthesis.
“As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” –John 9:5
“Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” –John 8:12
“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.” –Matthew 5:14
(For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. –Ephesians 5:9-11
For the sense of hearing, God wants us to give the good news of the gospel with a humble heart and pure speech; and to offer praise and thankfulness to God.
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” –Colossians 3:16
“So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.” –I Peter 2:1, ESV
“Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction.” –II Timothy 4:2
For the sense of touch, God wants us to offer compassion like He did when He healed people. But God separates compassion from taking part with evil or endorsing it.
“But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.” –Luke 10:33-37
“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,” –II Corinthians 6:17
For the sense of taste, God want us to offer flavor into the world, as He did. Salt, in particular, offers health benefits for the thirsty, intensifies flavor, and is a preservative. It is analogous to wisdom, where a little can go a long way.
“Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.” –Matthew 5:13
“Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” –Colossians 4:6
There is one more sense to be discussed, and that is the sense of smell. And I’m also including a childbirth story.
How important is the sense of smell? Smells can be powerful as well. They can trigger early and powerful memories and emotions. And smell is an important sense for God. God’s sense of smell seems related to His people’s heart condition. When His people commit evil or harbor hate, self-righteous pride and hypocrisy – he smells a bad smell. When His people are humble and obedient and walk in love, he smells a sweet smell, the fragrance of Christ.
“And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.” –Genesis 8:20-21
“For in mine holy mountain, in the mountain of the height of Israel, saith the Lord GOD, there shall all the house of Israel, all of them in the land, serve me: there will I accept them, and there will I require your offerings, and the firstfruits of your oblations, with all your holy things. I will accept you with your sweet savour, when I bring you out from the people, and gather you out of the countries wherein ye have been scattered; and I will be sanctified in you before the heathen.” –Ezekiel 20:40-41
“Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.” –Ephesians 5:1-2
Like my mother and billions of women who lived before me, I wanted to have a natural childbirth. Natural childbirth typically takes good preparation during pregnancy, like rest, nutrition, appropriate exercise, practicing of breathing techniques, and having appropriate medical and practical help available and good moral support. One thing that was also encouraged was visualization to take your mind off of the physical intensity and pangs of labor and the pain of delivery. We are encouraged to have a “happy place” to take our mind elsewhere during the hardest parts.
I had tried having a visual “happy place” in my mind for the labor process but it was hard to come up with anything.
I experienced natural childbirth except for a couple tweaks at the beginning and end of labor. My labor had to be artificially induced but when it started, it was incredibly intense. We had family that we intended to notify when labor started but with the intensity experienced – this never happened. For eight hours I required the constant aid and support of my husband and my patient and level-headed mother who was a retired nurse.
When my daughter was about to make her appearance, there was another challenge. My doctor said something was preventing her and advised the aid of a suction cup for the head. I was in no mood to say anything, except, “Go ahead, Doc!”. After the worse moments of pain in my life, my daughter arrived with the first light of the morning. I was filled with joy and love for the new baby immediately placed on my belly. The doctor announced at that moment “It’s a girl!” and I could visually confirm the fact while he said it. She was healthy and vital and in that raw moment, all I could say was to repeat: “She’s so beautiful!” The doctor told us that after delivery that one on my daughter’s hand’s had been flush against her head in delivery, greatly increasing the “ouch factor” of delivery.
So in the preceding chapter of my life, it was hard to immerse myself in a “happy place”, separate from the arduous, intense, sleep-deprived labor and the painful delivery.
But I did have a happy place. In my mind, I was drinking in the smell of my favorite nature park trail where I had spent many hours traversing before and during pregnancy. The unique smell of the wetland trail was a combination of the flora and fauna, the sweet smells of pollinated flowers and forest woods and some not so pleasant smells. That fragrance was strong and distinct in spring and summer, created and forged after a hard winter with the killing powers of frost and lack of light. New and transformed life came out of the crushed old life. The fragrance of the trail was the fragrance of new life. And it was powerful and sweet.
When Christ became crushed for and crucified for us and rose again in new life, the church really began. The fragrance of Christ’s extreme and unfathomable suffering and death was dramatic and the total message of his life on earth was complete and sealed. Likewise the martyrdom of the apostles and saints was like gasoline to add to the fire of the spread of true Christianity. The apostles and saints weren’t perfect, but their sacrifice after Christ’s example was perfect.
God has respect for the crushed, the persecuted and those under tribulation – and in it, He smells the pure fragrance of Christ.
“A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.” –Matthew 12:20
Through Stephen’s vision, we know Christ stood when Stephen was stoned and martyred. And Christ will again stand during his people’s tribulation.
“When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” –Acts 7:54-60
“And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.” –Daniel 12:1
Christ in all things has given us an example. In our lives we are to take up our crosses and follow Him.
“Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things? For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.” –II Corinthians 2:14-17, KJV