Published: Wednesday, May 13, 2009 | 12:09 AM ET Canadian Press THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
SAN JOSE, Calif. – A California office worker cleaning a refrigerator full of rotten food created a smell so noxious that it sent seven co-workers to the hospital and made many others ill.
Firefighters had to evacuate the AT&T building in downtown San Jose on Tuesday after the fumes led someone to call emergency services. A hazardous materials team was called in. What crews found was an unplugged refrigerator crammed with moldy food.
Authorities say an enterprising office worker had decided to clean it out, placing the food in a conference room while using two cleaning chemicals to scrub down the mess.
The mixture of old lunches and disinfectant caused 28 people to need treatment for vomiting and nausea.
Authorities say the worker who cleaned the refrigerator didn’t need treatment – she can’t smell because of allergies.
It’s everyone’s dirty little secret … we all know what happened in that office don’t we? We’ve all been part and parcel of the dreaded game of moldy mayhem known as the office fridge (or the school locker). Even if you didn’t put anything in there to serve as the beginnings of monstrous genetic experiment … you saw it growing … and said it was the problem of someone else. But then it begins to spread so maybe you push it a little further back or begin only to use the top shelf. You turn down the temperature to slow the progress. You start bringing food that only needs to be microwaved. But do you clean it up? No way! That’s not my mess – even if it is now everyone’s problem.
We all have a communal fridge in our souls – and in it we gladly give friends and family, community, and causes shelf space. Sure it gets filled with all sorts of good intentions and well-wishes, warm-feelings and good causes … but we don’t always look after it too carefully. Sometimes something will get lost or ignored, and we all know that it only takes one small part of it to sour or fester and the rot quickly spreads. The longer you try to ignore it the worse it gets, the more it smells, and the less likely we are to do anything about it. And make no mistake, others see it … and ignore it … because they know their own fridges are hiding equally monstrous creations.
And that is why so many, Christians included, are often reluctant to deal with the stink and corruption of sin in people. Gossip is allowed to wander freely through people’s lives. Sexual sins are safely hidden in the bedroom. Hatred is allowed to masquerade as tolerance. Love is redefined, or simply made optional. Morals are left to others to sort out for themselves, just so long as I’m left the freedom of my little corner where their stink cannot touch me.
But it always does. And the longer you let it grow the worse off everyone will be when you must finally clean it up. Sin is toxic, even just a little sin. Sin stinks with a stink that can overpower even the strongest of us. Sin, like an office fridge, is everyone’s problem.
And that is why God sent His Son. The woman in the office didn’t succumb to the fumes because she couldn’t smell them. Jesus didn’t succumb to sin, because He is God. Yet He was willing to bear that stink … OUR stink upon the cross so that no one might be overpowered by it again – even if it meant that He must be overwhelmed by it to the point of death. And having left that rot of sin in the grave He rose and come forth again – clean and fresh and smelling of victory. And what’s more, He continues even now to come back again and again through the Word and the Sacraments to clean out the moldy corners of our souls, making our lives full of the aroma of Christ. Making our witness to the reality of sin and the power of forgiveness a sweet smelling fragrance to the world around us … well to those who like having their fridges cleaned out anyway … To those who won’t let the fridge be cleaned it’s just one more stink they will have to put up with until the Hazmat team arrives!
2 Corinthians 2:14-16 But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.