by Christine Berglund

West Nile virus. Malaria. Dengue Fever. These are a few of my NON-favorite things, all spread by mosquitoes. Chemical-based mosquito repellent is also not one of my favorite things.

While the hordes of hungry skeeters are not likely to keep me from my garden, I get tired of being a human pincushion.

Currently I am experimenting with a variety of repellent herbs. So far, I have had the most experience with Citronella Pelargonium. It is commonly termed “Mosquito Plant” and has a wonderful lemony scent.

I don’t mind when it lingers long after I have abandoned the darkening shadows of the garden and come indoors. While it may be offensive to mosquitoes, I don’t share the aversion to the smell; I like it.

Lately I have also tried basil and lemon balm as insect repellents. Their smell is equally as pleasing, fortunately. There are other plants in the herb garden that are said to be useful also, such as rosemary, catnip, and hyssop.

My Mosquito Plant is a genetically engineered geranium, with genes taken from another one of my favorites in the garden. The Citronella was taken from Citronella Grass, a type of Lemon Grass. This substance is also present in Melissa Officianalis, or lemon balm.

As I type this, I am enjoying the lingering scent of Citronella Pelargonium and basil, without the harsh chemical smell of the store-bought repellents. The two bites that I’m scratching occurred before I applied the crushed leaves to my arms and legs, and tucked them into my pocket.

The term “repellent” comes from the Latin “repellere” which means repugnant, or repulsive. The dictionary term also includes “To drive back or drive away,” which is precisely my goal for these pesky blood-suckers.

We as Christians may be repelling people who don’t like being around the scent of Christianity and its teachings. While we must never purposely drive them away, we should be aware that some of our former friends may abandon us because of the values we should be adopting, and they can “smell it” on us.

Christianity is repulsive to those who want to live their lives for their own pleasures. “…They are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you” (1 Peter 4:4, ESV).

While our goal is to live “in the world, but not of the world” and be a good influence, there will be times when old friends finally leave you or you have to leave them. When they insist that you not only accept their evil lifestyles, but also give hearty approval to it, we must stand firm for God’s way. We cannot pretend that sin is a valid “choice” instead of righteousness.

Whether the laws of the land uphold their ways or not, God’s word is the standard by which we are judged. We do not judge, but there will be times when our belief in the Bible is interpreted as such.

Do not be deceived by this trap! Take your stand with God, and live according to his precepts.

In doing so, you will be a repellent to evil, and attractive to good.

It may seem strange that, like our fragrant herbs, we can repel and attract at the same time. This enigma is explained in scripture.

“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…” (II Corinthians 2:15-16).

Have I mentioned how I love the smell of Citronella?

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