My final words to students as a UCCF Staffworker: shared at St Andrews CU, 1st May 2012
2 Corinthians 2: 14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. 15 For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task? 17 Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God.
1. Christ is beautiful. Why does Paul use the sense of smell, v14-15? Because the gospel doesnʼt concern only the realm of head knowledge. The gospel is something you sense, experience, and feel. We behold, we experience, that Christ is beautiful. When we donʼt feel this, it can sometimes be down to circumstance, and tough times are promised; but sometimes itʼs simply because we think about ourselves too much. Luther once defined sin as man curved in on himself; our natural disposition is to think only of No. 1. The gospel, however, uncurves us to see Christ. So we need to force ourselves daily to think less of ourselves and more of Jesus, and behold his beauty.
2. God through us will share the aroma of Christ with others. Verse 14 presumably means that we somehow embody that aroma - we smell as beautiful as Christ! What within us will cause us to smell so sweet? Our unity with other believers, our moral distinctiveness, our proclamation of Christ. Although the latter may not appear to do so, for:
3. People either love him or hate him. Look at v16 - Jesus is divisive! And there is no such thing as neutrality regarding Jesus. If friends respond with indifference, that is hatred. Yet if there is interest, be patient; what often starts just with a sniff leads to a love of the aroma. The stakes are high though. It is death or life (v16). Who is equal to such a task? None of us. But all of us. We are not responsible for peopleʼs reactions, but all of us are responsible to:
4. Speak to people about the serious message of the gospel. Never give up on beholding the beauty of Christ every day: forgetting self, caring for each other, loving your mates, being involved in their lives; and never stop talking about the beauty of Christ.