Saturday 07 January 2012

Bible Book:
2 Corinthians

"For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing." (v. 15)

2 Corinthians 2:12-17 Saturday 7 January 2012


It's amazing how smells can bring memories flooding back.There's almost the sense of being transported back to a particulartime or place, or experiencing again the emotions of the past. Fromthe scent of pine needles at Christmas, to the smell of blossom inspring; from the aroma of suncream reminding you of holidays, tothe smoke from a bonfire that can recall firework displays ofchildhood. Some smells have a seasonal regularity; others mayremind you of one-off events that you'd rather forget. RememberPeter in the courtyard, by the charcoal fire, denying his friend(John 18:15-18)? How would the smell of charcoalon the beach a few weeks later make him feel? But even then Jesusturned that into an opportunity for a new beginning (John21).

Our passage today is part of a controversial and sometimesconfusing letter Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth, and herehe was on his way to catch up with Titus, whom he sent on ahead ofhim. Titus wasn't where he expected to find him and Paul wasrestless in his ministry until he found his friend.

And then, seemingly out of the blue, Paul talks about "the aroma ofChrist". This is not referring to Jesus' brand of aftershave ordeodorant, but is a metaphor for something else. He speaks ofhimself and his fellow missionaries being the aroma of Christ. Inother words, their very presence brings to people's minds thesalvation of God that is in Jesus Christ. They're like a smell thatwon't go away! Paul says that for some this is a pleasant fragranceand for others it's an unwelcome stink.

Imagine, in ancient times, a conquering general or king returningfrom battle and leading a procession of triumph through the city.With the fanfares and the cheers, there would be incense burning:the scent rising in thanksgiving to the gods, or to announce thevictory wherever the wind blew. For the grateful citizens or thejoyful soldiers this would be, quite literally, the sweet smell ofsuccess. For the prisoners they dragged in their wake, it would bethe odour of impending doom.

The presence of Paul and the other followers of Jesus, spreadinghis gospel message around the known world, is the aroma of Christ'svictory which has already been won. To those who have turned tofaith in Christ and accepted God's salvation for themselves, thepresence of such fellow-Christians devoted in God's mission onlyserves to remind them of the love, peace and grace that they nowknow for themselves - leading to life. But those who have turnedaway in anger or disgust, refusing to hear God's graciousinvitation for forgiveness, hope and joy, well ... theirs is notthe way that leads to life, but denies the very life of Godrevealed in Jesus. And the presence of such people will only belike an annoying stench that won't go away. But even for thesepeople, Jesus still waits: "Listen! I am standing at the door,knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in toyou and eat with you, and you with me" (Revelation 3:20).

To Ponder

Paul was restless until he found his friend Titus(verses 12-13). Sometimes our friends are not where we'd like themto be when it comes to God. Who are the friends you would like tosee recognise the sweet aroma of Christ? In our restlessness, let'snot stop praying ...

But Paul was keen to point out that they weren't"peddlers of God's word" - like door-to-door salesmen offeringsomething nobody really wants or needs - but rather "persons ofsincerity, as persons sent from God and standing in his presence"(v. 17). How can we make sure that we are not only sincere in ourfaith, but remain standing in the presence of God?

The aroma of Christ is not only like a victoryprocession, but also a fragrance "to God" - like a sacrifice in OldTestament worship. Do we sometimes forget to include God in ourtriumphs or to consult God in our missions? What might help you toremember?

Previous Page Friday 06 January 2012
Next Page Sunday 25 December 2011