‘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 2:15-16From Dave Atkinson:
In our house, Marmite, cheese on toast and pesto cause division. Ailish likes them all and I don’t! It’s the smell. The smell is enticing for Ailish but, for me, well it means I sit on my own at the end of the table!
In 2 Corinthians 2, Paul is explaining how the gospel of Jesus, although it doesn’t change, will be received in different ways by different people. Some people will respond in joy as the gospel brings life. But the same gospel will be rejected by others, leading to death.
In verse 14, Paul has pictured a Roman triumphal procession which would be accompanied by the burning of sweet smelling incense (for the gods). To the victors, the aroma was sweet. For the defeated captives, facing slavery or worse, it was the aroma of death.
Paul is saying that sharing the gospel, the truth of Jesus being the way to salvation by his victory over sin and death, will have the same dividing effect. The good news will be an aroma of life for some and an aroma of death for others. As Paul says in verse 16, that makes sharing the gospel a daunting task; although he later emphasises in chapter 3:5 that we don’t do this in our own strength but rather our competence comes from God.
But here, in verse 15, Paul reminds us of an important fact; that when we share the gospel of Jesus, whatever the response, it will be a pleasing aroma to God.
This is a really helpful reminder to us all as we seek to Name Jesus in our conversations. We hope and pray that all the people to whom we Name Him will smell the aroma of life.
But whatever the response, we are encouraged that, as we Name Jesus, it will be, to God, the pleasing aroma of Christ.