Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Fragrance of Fresh Bread

Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." "Sir," they said, "from now on give us this bread." Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. 
(John 6: 32-35)

As a nine year old fourth grade student, I went with my class to the Mrs. Baird’s bread bakery in Abilene Texas in 1974.  A representative from the bakery met our group at the front door and ushered us on a lengthy tour that culminated in our consuming hot buttered slices of Mrs. Baird’s bread that only minutes before had been taken from the oven.  The aroma of that bread had been building hunger within us since we had pulled into the parking lot in our yellow school bus.  

By the time we finished the tour and got to those slices of bread, we were starving…and we were also converts to Mrs. Baird’s bread for the rest of our lives!  I remember watching television commercials for other breads as I grew up – Rainbow bread, Wonder Bread, and others…but no matter what those commercials said about their bread being the best; I knew the truth… only Mrs. Baird’s.  I had been there.  I had walked through the factory, and I had tasted it right out of the oven, warm in my own hands.  Today, all I have to do is drive past a bread factory and I am taken right back to that tour by the fragrance of that fresh baked bread.

In John chapter 6, Jesus had been baking bread…not literally, but figuratively.  He’s been speaking to the hearts of those who had followed him from the other side of the lake.  There, he had performed a miracle that had fed a multitude of people from just a few loves and fish.  There was something special about Jesus that they could not deny.  He made them hungry for what he had. They had caught the aroma of his “true bread from heaven” and they asked him to give it to them…”from now on…”.  It is then that he tells them: “I am the bread of life.  He who comes to me will never go hungry…”

As followers of Christ Jesus, we are to be the fragrance of fresh bread…The Bread of Life…to the starving world around us.  In 2 Corinthians 2:15-16 we read:  “For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.”  The aroma of Christ.  This is not something we pretend to have, or merely a positive attitude we put on so others will know we are Christian.  We have the aroma of Christ as a product of the condition of our spiritual daily living and walking in Him!  What a powerful mental image…particularly as I reflect on how aromas affect each of us.  

Figuratively speaking…according to the scriptures, our witness has an aroma!  I am convicted by this consideration because I am certain that there have been spans of my life that my witness of Christ was in such a poor state that…well, it probably smelled pretty rotten.  Other times, I am confident that because of my dry and stale spiritual state, my witness may have had no aroma at all.  

But then I will remember to live and practice spiritual disciplines.  I renew fellowship with the Lord, spending time with him in prayer and reading his word.  These disciplines renew the call to live as Christ, and live for Christ, and my heart begins to ‘bake fresh bread’ once again!  I become again the aroma of Christ.

Scripture to Claim
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”  (Romans 12:2)

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