But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task? 2 Corinthians 2:14-16.
What an incredible picture the apostle Paul paints for us here! The Christians of his day would have got it immediately – it was of a Roman Triumph! Let’s have a wee look at it!
A Roman General was returning home, victoriously, after a military campaign. The streets were crowded with families, friends and fellow citizens, as he entered the city on his chariot, some commentaries tell us that his sons would have joined him there; behind him, were his victorious soldiers, followed by their trophies of war including those who had been captured, soon to become servants or slaves. The air was heavy with the smell of incense, burned in thanksgiving to honour the multiplicity of gods who had given them the victory.
Paul uses this imagery to proclaim to the Christians at Corinth and to us, that Christ has won the victory over sin, death and hell; that he rose from the grave in triumph and that we are now His captives, taken from the kingdom of Satan, to become His bondservants. He then goes on to say that we are in a sense, impregnated with the aroma of that triumph! And as we go about our daily lives, in right relationship with Him, we automatically spread it everywhere we go – people smell the perfume of Christ on us.
What does Paul mean when he writes, “we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life.” For me, he is saying that the presence of Christ in us should be seen in the way we live – as positive witnesses, examples, and encouragement to each other as Christians.
It also means that we, the Church should “smell good!” We should individually and corporately be an attractive witness to the world around us! We should cause the non-Christian to have to make a decision about whether or not they should become a follower of Christ! For the world, it’s “make your mind up time!” For me, I am left with the question – “How am I smelling today?”
Father, thank You for the victory over sin, death and hell which Jesus has won for us on the cross. And thank You that You use us “to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him,” in your church, our homes, work and society. Amen.