2007-10-25 - The Smell of Death
2 Cor 2:15-16 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? (NASB)
Note that there are two positions in this explanation - the fragrance of Christ, or the fragrance of death. There is no middle ground. But I will suggest that there are levels of strength of the scent in each case, and they are one and the same. If the scent of Christ is strong, the aroma of death will be equally potent. And if the one scent is faint, the other will be equally faint.
To the world, the Christian is the reminder of their mortality. While we do not run to death, we no longer fear it. Death itself is a doorway from this life that leads into the next and eternal life. This should be the best news that anyone can be given. And yet, the world would rather publicly scoff and deny the reality of anything that can not be seen, touched or felt. But all the while, if most people are truly honest with themselves, they hold in their hearts and minds a thought. That thought, in a private moment, they might be willing to admit is that there might be just a little bit more to life than they can define. The struggle is how to deal with it on their own terms.
To those who know Jesus as their Lord and Savior, we are the fragrance of Christ. We who believe in Christ know that the world we can not yet see is far more real, and far more powerful than anything that we can see, touch of feel in this life. We look forward with hope that is an expectant hope that knows what is coming is certain. The hope is not if, but when this will come to pass. We have seen ourselves in the scales and we know that we are found wanting. We are sinners without the ability to cleans ourselves back to the perfection that is required to enter Heaven. But we have surrendered to the Master who takes the tattered, filthy rags of our lives and replaces them with His eternal life. The fragrance and the image we can project is His.
And this is why the world hates us. We stand for what they want on their terms and represent the pure and simple fact that is not possible. What they want only comes on God's terms. God will deal with us as He sees fit, not the other way around. The Sovereign Creator of the Universe has made a path for us to come back to Him, and we will take that path, or no other.
I don't like the idea of being the scent of death. But even this can be a positive thing if the scent generates a response. That doorway is the one and the same doorway for each of us - Christian or not. That doorway is not crossed on our own terms. The world we enter is a kingdom that answers to an eternal, immortal King.
1 Cor 15:53-58 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, "Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; 57 but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. (NASB)
We must cross through the doorway. There is no choice. One day we will leave this mortal life behind and we will put on immortality for good or for ill. There will be no quietly slipping away and fading back into the elements. The power of death was crushed at His resurrection from the grave. Sin was defeated by the work of Jesus at the cross. And God will give us His victory if we will simply ask on His terms. Ask for forgiveness of your sins - the times you have willfully fallen short of what God wanted for you. Repent - big word for being sorry for and turning away from your sin. He has promised that anyone who comes sincerely to accept. You can change your fragrance in just a minute of time. That amazing journey begins with this single step.