“Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. (2 Corinthians 2:14-16 NKJV)
One experience common to many religions is the experience of aroma. In the Old Testament system of sacrifices, the burning of the sacrifice was meant to be an aroma pleasing to God. There was even a special form of incense that was to be used only in worship. One of the gifts for the baby Jesus was frankincense which had a pleasant aroma. In other religions, incense might be used and any burnt offerings were meant to be a pleasing aroma to their deity. Among Christians, some churches use censers loaded with incense as part of their worship. Paul must have had that concept in mind as he talked about Christians being the fragrance of Christ. To those who are part of God’s kingdom, we are a pleasant aroma leading to life. To those outside the church – we have the stench of death about us.
Aroma makes a great impact on all of us. I’m going to make a bit of a confession here: I don’t like bacon. Really. When I go into a store that’s cooking bacon, I shudder because the aroma of bacon bothers me. So I don’t eat bacon, but I don’t attack people who enjoy it. As our world becomes more polarized, Christian viewpoints are being attacked by many who have different or no religious beliefs. The “aroma” of our faith so bothers people that they attack our faith and our beliefs rather than engaging in dialogue or even ignoring us. To those who aren’t of the kingdom of God, our faith is a stench. But, those who are of the faith can usually tell other Christians because their lives are a pleasant aroma: the aroma of God’s love. While Paul used figurative language here, the truth is that our teaching isn’t and won’t be accepted by those who are not in a relationship with Christ. Our job isn’t to condemn those people; our job is to show the love of Christ to them with the hope of helping them become sweet smelling citizens of the Kingdom of God.
Lord, let my life always be a sweet aroma of righteousness to You. Let me continue to love those who haven’t turned to You yet so that they too may one day enter into Your Kingdom.