Have you ever been sprayed by a skunk? Before this morning, I had no idea that there are ten different species of these cute little stinkers. There are hooded skunks, spotted skunks, hog-nosed skunks, stink badgers and the striped skunk. The two species of stink badgers live in Indonesia and the Philippines and the other eight species of skunks are indigenous to North America, South America and Canada. Skunks have sharp front claws and all skunks are stripped. They range in size from 15.6 to 37 inches in length and weigh in at 1.1 pounds (spotted skunk) to 18 pounds (hog-nosed skunk). Most species of skunks have black and white fur, but some of them are brown, grey or cream-colored. Skunks are omnivores (eat plants and animals) and feast on earthworms, small rodents, lizards, salamanders, frogs, snakes, birds, moles, eggs, berries, roots, leaves, grasses, fungi, nuts and human garbage (delicious..).
I think that humans learn at an early age to be weary of these critters because once you smell a skunk you will remember it. The smell has been described as a yummy combination of rotten eggs, garlic and burnt rubber. God gave skunks two muscle-powered anal scent glands that allow skunks to shoot a mixture of sulfur containing chemicals up to 16 feet with a high degree of accuracy. Because of this unique gift, the skunk only has one real predator, the great horned owl, which is like most birds in that they have a poor to non-existent sense of smell.
Skunk anal glands produce a wicked blend of three thiols (and the thioacetates of these three chemical compounds). The offensive odor is mostly due to (E)-2-buten-1-thiol and 3-methyl-1-butanethiol. If you, or your animal gets sprayed, the only way to get rid of the smell is to oxidize the thiol to an odorless sulfonic acid by application of an oxidant such as hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) or baking soda (sodium bicarbonate). The common belief that bathing is tomato juice will eliminate skunk odor is false. The “loss” of odor is due to olfactory fatigue, not true chemical changes of the thiols (see http://www.humboldt.edu/~wfw2/deodorize.shtml).
As I was thinking about all of these intriguing facts over breakfast, the thought occurred to me that true Christians have a unique “spiritual odor” that is sweet to other believers, but pungent to non-believers. The Bible says it this way, “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. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.” (2 Corinthians 2:14-16, NIV)
Over the years I have learned that if you take a stance for Christ, sometimes people will not appreciate it. The Scriptures warns us that, “Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death.” (1 John 3:13-14, NIV).
So how about it? Am I ashamed of the “cologne of Christ,” or do I wear the presence of His Holy Spirit proudly? Dear Lord please help your saints to reek of Jesus today to those around us so that those who don’t yet know you will be drawn to the Truth. Please help your saints to be loving “stinkers” for Christ.
(1) Information taken from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skunk and http://www.humboldt.edu/~wfw2/chemofskunkspray.html