Garbage night. I dutifully rolled the can out of the garage toward
the curb. As I neared my intended curbside destination I noticed activity
a short distance away. Apparently a new pair of black and white cats
had moved into the neighborhood. They were intent on something in the
storm drain. My curiosity aroused, I stopped to watch. Suddenly, a third,
smaller one appeared out of the drain. I noted how fluffy they all were
with big, furry black and white tails. Suddenly I realized that
the acrid smell hanging in the air was not coming from my garbage can.
Leaving the can in the middle of the driveway, I broke a personal speed
record, dashing into the garage and frantically punching the button
to bring down the door.
Safely inside, my wife, Peggy, and I watched from our windows as a
pair of adult striped skunks pulled four baby skunks out of the storm
drain and proceeded to walk down the sidewalk, disappearing en masse
into a neighbors yard.
This happened during a short bout of cooler weather, a brief respite
from the hot, humid Missouri summer, and I had intended to open the
windows for fresh air that night. I changed my mind. We left the air
The smell hung in the air for weeks, until the brood was raised and
they vacated the vicinity.
Sometime later, I ventured out in the woods to hike. I hadnt
paid attention to the time and I found myself well into the woods when
the sun fell. Under the tree canopy it was pitch black.
In the dark, I began to think about wild animals.
Not the ferocious variety, but skunks. Skunks are nocturnal; they come
out at night. And if you happen to stumble upon one in the dark, it
can make you smell really bad.
Its sort of like that in the church. Yes, Satan is a roaring
lion, seeking those he can devour. And Christians do need to learn spiritual
warfare. But the greatest damage to churches is done by those who make
the church smell bad by venting a critical spirit, passing along
gossip or complaining continually rather than pitching in to make a
difference. This causes a smell that makes people want to stay away
and the smell can last for a long time.
Id rather wrestle a demon than try to fight a backbiter.
Skunks are part of nature. They exist and we avoid them.
Those who cause the church to smell bad can, however, change their
stripes. And they should be challenged to do so. If they refuse, they
should be avoided as well. The Christians life should instead,
by love and humility, give off "a sweetsmelling savor" (Ephesians