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The Gospel According to Essential Oils

Lest you think I’m assuming too much about my audience, I would say that 99% of those I know who use and sell essential oils through MLM companies are also professing believers. This is not a New Age market of people who have willingly traded the cross for the creation.

False gospels, false cures, false antidotes for the sickness in our souls have been around since the dawn of creation. Since the serpent deceived Eve with his cunning, we have been led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ (2 Corinthians 11:3). Before you think I’m just panicking and wringing my church lady hands over no big deal bottles of perfumes, let’s walk through a popular essential oil company’s descriptions of their blends:

  • Forgiveness: “Forgiveness™ contains an aroma that supports the ability to forgive yourself and others while letting go of negative emotions, an important part of personal growth.”
  • Faith: “The INFUSED Faith™ Inspired by Oola essential oil blend has been specially formulated to help you feel grateful, humble, and fully secure in your place in this world. This confidence-boosting blend enhances spiritual influences, promoting deeper meditation and a greater sense of spiritual awareness and connectedness. Faith affirmation: I am grateful, humble, and fully connected.”​
  • Finances: “The INFUSED Finance™ Inspired by Oola essential oil blend has been specially formulated to encourage positive emotions and increased feelings of abundance. This uplifting and inspiring blend also brings clarity and alertness. Finance affirmation: I am financially free and living abundantly.”​​
  • Humility: “True humility is the foundation of emotional strength. Humility™ is a blend of pure essential oil scents that promotes deeper spiritual awareness.”​

Last I checked, the fruit of the Spirit is the following: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self Control. These are things the Spirit produces within us and what the Gospel tells us. He knows we are incapable of mustering them up in our souls or self-affirming our way to the top of the mood mountain. We need something more. We need an external force to move us from death to life. ​

These are not things we can bottle up. They’re not feelings we can produce through deeper spiritual awareness or self-affirmations. They’re not moods we can pull onto our shoulders like clothes. A popular belief system among these crowds is the gospel of self, for some the teachings of “oola,” for others the affirmations that accompany any self-adulation praise —I am enough. My future is in my hands. ​

All day long, tell me how clove and cinnamon and peppermint and lavender can aid in the care of my home and family. Tell me how lemon is good for my circulatory system. Show me how Thieves kills germs like nobody’s business. But stop telling me that you’re a happier person because of your roll-on blend.

We cannot serve God, then find our comfort in the things of this world that promise us an empty version of the gospel, an empty hope, or a false gospel that tells us our redemption is elsewhere. We do not need oola; we need 2 Corinthians 2:14-17: ​

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. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.​

The hope of our lives, the peace of our souls, the joy of our hearts cannot be manufactured by anything on this planet. We need the cross, the blood of Christ, the stone-rolling-away sound of an empty tomb to scrub our hands clean of the idols we’ve worshipped. We need the aroma of Christ, the fragrance of the gospel, the truth of a work that only God can do. I do not need a salvation of oils, a diffused hope, a cure that demands if I just tried hard enough, applied enough, believed enough. ​

My prayer is that we’d be the kind of people who can marvel at the beauty of creation, who can take dominion over it for our good, and who also know when we’ve exchanged the Creator for the creation and the truth of the Gospel for a lie. I don’t need Jesus + oils. I need the resurrected Christ, from now until I return to the dust that the plants grow in.

Originally published at For The Church.

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Andrea Burke is the Director of Women's Ministry at her home church Grace Road Church in Rochester, NY. She writes and teaches regularly for women. She's married to the quintessential Vermont man, Jedediah, and they are raising two kids in an old farmhouse on a couple of acres outside of Rochester, NY. You can also find more about her at andreagburke.com or on Twitter @theandreaburke.