Frangipani is the common name of a flowering tree found in many places around the world. The name stems from an Italian nobleman who in the sixteenth century was the first to make a ladies scent from the flowers of this tree. The flowers come in various shapes and colors. The flowers are a feast for the eyes and the fragrance is a pleasing aroma for the nose.
I first became familiar with the frangipani tree when I moved to Cambodia. I immediately fell under the enactment of their flowering beauty a
nd fragrance. There is a boulevard in my city that has about 50 of these trees all together. It is wonderful to drive through there on my motorbike when the trees are in full bloom. The smell is intoxicating and the beauty is captivating.
I have entitled this blog “Frangipani Kingdom” because this flowering tree has become a metaphor for me of the Christian life. These are the reasons I have chosen this name:
- My favorite frangipani trees are those that have white flowers with a yellow center. Man’s ability to perceive color is an amazing gift from our Creator. Isaac Newton was the first person to observe that color is not inherent in objects. The color of an object is determined by the wavelengths of the color spectrum that are reflect off of it. Objects that reflect all of the wavelengths appear to us as the color white. Those objects that absorb all of the wavelengths appear black to us. Therefore a strawberry appear to be red because it is reflecting the red wavelengths of the color spectrum. I am not a scientist and this is an over simplification of our perception of color, but I think you can get the idea. In Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus calls us, “The light of the world.” In John 8:12, Jesus says, “I am the light of the world.” Jesus is the light source and we reflect his light to the world. In the same way, the white frangipani flower reflects all of the light of the sun. We, likewise, are to reflect the light of the Son. The yellow at the center of the flower reminds me of eternity. It is Christ at our center reflecting eternity to the world.
- This flowering tree is not only a sumptuous feast for our eyes but it is also a wonderful delight for our nose. Hence, this is why Mr. Frangipani made a scent for women from its flowers. In 2 Corinthians 2:14-16, Paul says this, “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?” The fragrance of the frangipani is pleasing to my nose, but to some it might not be anything special or you might even think it stinks. Whatever you think, it does not diminish the fact that it gives off a powerful scent. Likewise, God, through us, spreads “the fragrance of the knowledge of him (Christ) everywhere.” Some will simply say it stinks. Those are the ones who reject Christ from the outset. For those who believe, it is a most glorious scent.
- Each frangipani tree is resplendent with flowers. Each flower is beautiful and fragrant by itself. When it is joined with its brothers and sisters on a single tree the beauty and fragrance increase expediential. When you join a single tree with a multitude of other trees you are whisked away into a place of palatable splendor and scent. Revelation 1:5b-6 says, “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! ” The Father, through Jesus Christ, has made each individual believer into a priest. Those individual priest are joined into groups of believers all over the world. Those groups of priests are joined together to form the glorious kingdom of our Lord which “spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.”