You stink!

You stink!

You stink!

Or at least, you should. So says the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 2:15: For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.

Apparently, when I was quite young, when I smelled the perfume my mom was wearing, I would say, “Mommy…you stink pretty!” We who belong to Jesus ought to “stink pretty.” It is a fragrance of life. It is like that first, deep breath we were finally able to take after a week of inhaling smoke-flavored air. Especially in this challenging season…politics, pandemic, racial unrest…there ought to be something about you that smells different. Smells of life. Smells good. Stinks pretty.

Ironically, Paul says that we also carry the stench of death on us. This isn’t nearly as pleasant a thought, is it? I remember one year in our old home when we had rats in the crawl space. Foolishly, I put down D-con…and then headed out of town for a business trip. When I got back and walked through the door I said, “What is that smell?” Of course, you KNOW what it was. I had to crawl under that house and pull out a family of dead rats in the early stages of decomposition. Yummy.

What’s disturbing about Paul’s analogy is that we who “stink pretty” to some, smell like death to others. Apparently, the aroma is in the nose of the beholder! Those who are in Christ…or who are looking and longing for the life that only Christ can provide…to THEM we smell like life. At least we should. But to those who have turned away from God, who have rejected Christ, we throw off an unsettling aroma. Paul seems to be saying that we smell to them like the state of their own spiritual self.

This might explain why we receive such disparate responses from those around us when we are seeking to live a conspicuously Christian life. To those who long for something more, we are a glimpse…a sniff…of a better life, a real life. To those who are in the process of rejecting God, we are threatening and offensive.

Of course, the good news is, our God brings the dead back to life….including those who, for the moment, might find us so offensive. It is God’s job to redeem noses…and every other part of one’s body. It is OUR part to make sure that we continue to live authentic, Christ-honoring, neighbor-loving lives…and let the scent fall where it may!

I hope you will join us this weekend as we continue to explore the riches of 2 Corinthians in our sermon series, “Behind the Mask.” See you then. 

Pastor Mark