I have loved this verse ever since my father-in-law shared it with me a few years ago. It goes on to say that we are the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. We are the aroma of Christ. What a beautiful image. It’s a reference back to the sacrificial system and the aroma of the sacrifices being pleasing to God but then makes a beautiful circle as it incorporates our redemption through Christ and spiritual worship as we present our bodies (our life) as living sacrifices. There is so much here, so much depth to these verses, but I’ll only touch on a few things today…
First of all, thanksgiving. None of this is of our own doing, but it is through Christ that God leads us. He’s in control, this is his plan for his glory – we are but humble chosen servants adopted into sonship. So we don’t lead and make our own way, we pray for wisdom and trust his leading. There is rest in that, it’s not all on us. Similarly, we don’t have to “try” to be an aroma, we are an aroma. Our lives effect everyone else around us whether we are trying or not. If we are following Christ as he leads us, fulling surrendering our lives to him, then he fills us with his Spirit and that overflows out of us like incense to those we interact with every day. Without trying then, we are the aroma of Christ, because it’s a natural outflow of a life surrender to Christ. There’s a beautiful identity in there.
Second, the procession. He’s spreading the fragrance of the knowledge of him through us. Telling people about God, his son Jesus and the Holy Spirit, sharing the gospel is what we are called to. He’s using us to save the lost. It’s the great commission and it’s a triumphal procession, a parade. It’s loud and it’s a victory celebration. But we can’t get so distracted with the parade that we forget it’s purpose. It’s not about us, it’s about spreading the gospel everywhere. And he’s leading it.
Third, aroma. People perceive aroma differently. One aroma can stir up an unquenchable hunger in one person, and the same aroma can cause a gag reflex in another. We are the aroma- and to those who are being saved, we stir up a hunger that only he will satisfy. However, to those who are perishing, we will stir up feeling of the opposite – indifference at the mildest, disgust or hatred at the extreme… but we aren’t responsible for how the aroma is perceived. We simply are the aroma. We can’t change it to make it more pleasing, we can’t try and hide the truths that are hard or ignore what doesn’t fit our lifestyle. Because then the aroma changes and it’s not pure and good. So we have to trust God and the Holy Spirit to open the eyes of the blind, open the ears of the deaf… to open the hearts of the lost. Only He can do that.
So I can be thankful. I can rest in the knowledge that he is faithful, he will always lead me, and he prepares the way before me. He corrects me, encourages me, and guides me as his child and as I continue to be surrendered to him, he is using my life to be the aroma of Christ to a God among those around me. I pray it is a sweet aroma.