“We are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ... “ — 2 Corinthians 2:15
White lilies adorn the pulpit area of our church on Easter Sunday. For some of us, the aroma that floats through the sanctuary is invigorating. Others, though, need a dose of antihistamines just to make it through the worship service. The same scent produces extremely different reactions.
Followers of Christ can be like those lilies. Paul refers to himself and others who spread the good news of Jesus as bringing “the aroma of Christ.” And he has two pictures in mind. One has to do with the Roman “triumphal procession,” in which a victorious general would lead a parade of conquering soldiers and defeated enemies. The smell of incense would fill the air—and for the victors, this was the smell of salvation; but for the defeated, it was the smell of their imminent death.
Paul also has in mind a picture of the Old Testament sacrifice, which raised a pleasing aroma to God. And today, because Jesus’ sacrifice for sin brought an end to those sacrifices, we who believe in Jesus offer ourselves “as a living sacrifice... pleasing to God” (Romans 12:1).
Paul explains that we can be a pleasing aroma to God among all the people around us. Sadly, some people reject Jesus and his message, so the good news seems displeasing to them. But we know that the Spirit of God can change people’s hearts. So let’s pray that God will use us to help people see his love and desire to save everyone, so that they may recognize the “aroma that brings life.”