I have been thinking a lot about the teaching I heard yesterday. I don’t think I’ve ever thought much about the verses that were shared. I liked them, but I hadn’t realized their depth.
2 Corinthians 2:14–16 14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. 15 For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; 16 to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things?
These words offer great comfort as we consider our place in this world. Just think about it… we exude the aroma of salvation in Christ—Messiah! The verse doesn’t say that we try to do it, that it is an effort, or that we don’t try to do it. Rather, as we follow God, who leads us, all around us can sense His presence… We may not realize it, we may not even notice the scent—but it is always there. And it explains the reactions that come our way. Rejection vs acceptance. To put it bluntly, those who are hungering and thirsting for righteousness are attracted to the scent; but those who are not interested in it are repelled by it.
And no, we are not adequate for these things. It is Christ in us who does the work.
This has been drilled home to me the past few days as I have had to make some decisions that may—or may not—have a lasting impact on some of my relationships with people who don’t believe as I do—decisions about explaining why I can or cannot do something; decisions about sharing more deeply what I believe, but at possible risk.
But then I think of Wenxi Li, a book store worker in Beijing, who traveled to Shanxi province to help local Christians there open a legal new book store in the capital city of Taiyuan. To make a long story short, despite the legality of his work, Wenxi is now in prison. The police felt he had an aroma of death. Yet, while in prison, the aroma of life has already touched three other prisoners.
What risk do I face? I may be called a fanatic or intolerant; at worst, I might have to look for another job. But no one is threatening me with prison, and no one is threatening me with death as believers in Jesus face in Iran.
The choice before me is the same as theirs. Will I follow my Lord no matter what? I realized yesterday as I meditated on these verses that I want to, but I am a very poor follower. I get distracted, I forget my goal… and then, I find new comfort. I’m not adequate for this and I never will be. But I have the same hope that Paul returns to in 2 Cor 3:5
5 Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God,
Always and ever it is God who makes me able, He whom I rely on, and He whom I can trust.
I believe this is the secret that makes the brothers and sisters suffering for their faith able to endure. As it is written: II Cor 3:12 “Therefore having such a hope, we use great boldness in our speech.”
May we each trust HIM to give us the boldness we need to exude HIS fragrance to all around us.