Tuesday, May 18, 2010

“Atmosphere of Praise”

We live in a small, New Age town in Northern California. It's different here. As Bible-believing
Christians, we're in the minority. People here are into clean air, simple living, and preserving
nature. Many are vegetarian, if not vegan. The source of authority in their lives varies from spirit
guides to ascended masters to Buddha.

We share a common appreciation of being outdoors in nature with our new-age neighbors. On the
trail we have met strangers who say they like our aura. In conversations, people will sometimes
refer to someone as having "bad energy" – which would be someone to avoid.

When our dog got sick with cancer, our neighbor, desiring to be helpful, told us she had
performed Reiki massage over the tumor in hopes that it would reduce the tumor size. She told us
that since we have "good energy" in our family, that our dog would benefit from our massaging
him, even if we didn't understand Reiki. We could still "transfer the energy." As Christians, we
reject the notion that we have any power inherent in us to "transfer energy" or "heal." We have no
life or power apart from God, for "in Him we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28).
This week's Sabbath School lesson focuses on air: the air we breathe and the invisible atmosphere
that surrounds our persons.

Spiritually, our world is suffocating with the poison of sin that permeates our very
atmosphere. Consider these thoughts:

"Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us
diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the
fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are
perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other
the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things?" (2
Corinthians 2:14-16).

“Every soul is surrounded by an atmosphere of its own—an atmosphere, it may be,
charged with the life-giving power of faith, courage, and hope, and sweet with the
fragrance of love. Or it may be heavy and chill with the gloom of discontent and
selfishness, or poisonous with the deadly taint of cherished sin. By the atmosphere
surrounding us, every person with whom we come in contact is consciously or
unconsciously affected” (Ellen White, Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 339).

There are things about ourselves that we can fix if we are sufficiently motivated. If our hair is
messed up, we can get it styled. If our clothing is shabby, we can put on new clothes. When we're
unhappy, we can still smile. We can "fix" our outward appearance. We can even wear deodorant,
but there's nothing we can "do" to fix the "fragrance" spoken of in 2 Corinthians 2, or the
"atmosphere" of the soul, as described in Christ's Object Lessons. This spiritual fragrance to
which Paul refers is something we often dismiss because it's invisible. But it is a quality our
highly-sensitive new age friends can sense, and it's something that, like it or not, we cannot hide.
What does all this have to do with the gospel of Jesus Christ and the 1888 message?
Who we believe Jesus to be and how we understand His work on the hearts of others affects who
we are on the inside and emits an odor, or fragrance, on the outside that can't be seen with the
visible eye, but can certainly be felt. For example, when we meditate on the cross of Christ and
consider the infinite price He paid to save the lost, our view of the lost will be far different than
seeing them as potential persecutors during the time of trouble. Both may be true, but one view is
agape-centered, and the other is self-centered. We may still have a lot of self left in us, even while
claiming to believe the gospel. The 1888 message was sent specifically to take the spotlight off us
and focus it on Jesus, the light of the world! This message is the most powerful, life-changing
message ever given to the world.

The effect of this message on the heart is practical--as it was on the road to Emmaus. It will burn
within the heart of the believer and warm the atmosphere around him. Others feel this warmth and
are drawn to Christ through the human instrument. This is how it is that our lives can be such a
powerful witness for Christ, even when no words are spoken. Those who cherish sin may not
realize how their secret sin poisons the atmosphere around them, but it does, and "every person
with whom we come in contact is consciously or unconsciously affected."
Our evangelistic efforts will achieve undreamed-of results when the atmosphere surrounding each
light-bearer is consistent with the life-saving message he shares.

"In the matchless gift of His Son, God has encircled the whole world with an
atmosphere of grace as real as the air which circulates around the globe. All who
choose to breathe this life-giving atmosphere will live and grow up to the stature
of men and women in Christ Jesus" (Ellen White, Steps to Christ, page 68).

--Patti Guthrie

Sabbath School Today