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A FRAGRANCE OF LIFE

By Thomas E. Durst

2 Corinthians 2:14-17 (English Standard Version)
   14But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, 16to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? 17For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God's word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ

2 Corinthians 2:14-17 (The Message)
14And I got it, thank God! In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. 15Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation--an aroma redolent with life. 16But those on the way to destruction treat us more like the stench from a rotting corpse. This is a terrific responsibility. Is anyone competent to take it on? 17No--but at least we don't take God's Word, water it down, and then take it to the streets to sell it cheap. We stand in Christ's presence when we speak; God looks us in the face. We get what we say straight from God and say it as honestly as we can.

[Also read John 1:4, 5; John 8:12; Matthew 5:14-16; Isaiah 60:1-3]

Historically, in Christianity and other world religions the emphasis has been on doing and believing rather than being.  “Don’t to this and don’t do that” and “believe these certain doctrines” have been stressed.  Many mainline churches still recite the historic creeds every week and I’m not criticizing this way of reminding people of the basics of historic Christian faith.  The holiness movement of the late 19th century placed great stress on the “don’ts” of true Christians which, if followed closely, would deprive people of most enjoyable and relaxing pastimes.  Don’t play cards, attend the theater, dance, wear fashionable clothes, attend public beaches, and on and on the list went.  Be very sober and avoid frivolity as much as possible.  Holiness of living and all of the “don’ts” became inseparable.  Mostly what was accomplished by this religion was to lay huge guilt trips on people.  No one was ever sure if they had all of the “do’s and don’ts” just exactly right.  Guilt is something that has been used throughout human history to keep the masses under the control of religious and political power brokers. 

What Paul is saying in the citation above seems to indicate that what we are is what really influences people the most and determines our own behavior. Our very lives are to be as an “exquisite fragrance” to all with whom we come in contact.  It is our being that either repels or attracts people to us so that we may build relationships of love and communication.

In New Age thought the word “aura” is used to describe the atmosphere or energy field that we all give out on a subconscious level.  There is some research that would indicate that through Kirlian photograpy the negative or positive energy that envelopes us may actually be seen in graphic images.  Whether one chooses to delve into that research or not is not my concern but what is positively true is that each of us carries about us a definite atmosphere that influences others either positively or negatively.  I’ve met some people that I felt repelled towards and felt led to distance myself from unless the Holy Spirit specifically revealed to me that I had some ministry to them.  I’ve met others that it felt so good just to be around and I felt immediately upon meeting them that we were on the same wave length.  I can think of many saints in churches that I’ve attended where I just felt uplifted by their very presence.  I’ve met people in public places and immediately we seemed to know that we were on the same spiritual wave length.  I think that this is what Paul is talking about in these verses.  Our very being can be an uplifting influence upon others such as we could never begin to imagine.

We think many times that we need to “witness” by speaking certain words and sometimes we are led to speak “God’s Word” as the Holy Spirit leads us.  The principle is stated in these words:

“We stand in Christ's presence when we speak; God looks us in the face. We get what we say straight from God and say it as honestly as we can.” (verse 17, The Message).

Notice the order here (1) “We stand in Christ’s presence when we speak”; (2) “We get what we say straight from God.”  Being must precede doing, including our speaking.  If we are spending quality time with God, we will be “the aroma of Christ” to everyone that we meet and we will have the wisdom to speak or not to speak as is best for the situation.  The secret is in being in Christ’s presence, living in the atmosphere of His love continually.

A behavioristic kind of of emphasis is getting things exactly backward.  As we commune with God daily in prayer, meditation, and the Word of God, we will be “spiritually charged” with God’s power, not just trying to do everything on the strength of good human intentions.  There is a huge difference between moving in the candle of our own human kindling and moving under the unction of God’s power.  God’s creative power is just as real today as it ever has been.  The mighty power that created the heavens and the earth, a theme emphasized over and over again in scripture, is exactly the same and readily available today.  The only problem with it is that so few have given it a fair try.

The verses quoted above indicate that for some people our being will be offensive and such was the case when Jesus, the God-man, came to this earth.  He was a joy to some and an offense to others.  His very life itself was the light of men (John 1:4, 5; 8:12) as is the case with us, His followers (Matthew 5:14-16).  But as we go forth into a needy world, “charged” with God’s power, we are powerful instruments through which the Holy Spirit will work to bring light and blessing and those who are truly honest in heart will respond and come into the light with us.

[Written by Tom Durst on January 26, 2005. This is an going series of articles from my spiritual journey sent to those who personally request them via email:  tomdurst1@msn.com.   Your comments are especially invited.  Let me know if these articles are helpful in your walk with God.]  Journey 13