21-Day Challenge: Day 3

The Fragrance

But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task?  (2 Corinthians 2:14-16)

th-18We are a fragrance.

This is quite the thought — rarely thought about, hardly believed: Our lives give off a fragrance. Once again, this is something we are not aware of. This is something going on all the time without our knowledge, mainly because it is not for us.

The fragrance, or aroma, that our lives give off is primarily for God. We are told here exactly what the fragrance is and who it’s for. The fragrance is Christ, and the fragrance is first of all for God, and only secondly for those around us.

Did you know that right now, wherever you are, whatever you are doing, your life is a sweet aroma to God? God looks “down” from heaven and smells you, and that is because Christ is in you.

When we believe and are baptized, Christ is born in us through the Holy Spirit. From that moment on, God is pleased with us, because Christ is in us. In this sense, Christ never left. When He was here in the flesh, He told His disciples He would have to leave, but only so He could send His Spirit to live in us and God will forever be pleased with that.

Stop everything you are doing, lean back, put your hands in your lap and say to yourself: “I am pleasing to God. As I sit here doing nothing but meditating on this, I am pleasing to God.” No truer thing was ever spoken. This is not because you are such a good person. This is not because you are being so obedient and living the life He wants you to live. The fragrance doesn’t get stronger when you are good and weaker when you are bad. The fragrance is there simply because Christ is in you, and God smells Christ in you, and smiles. He is pleased to still have Christ on this earth in the hearts and lives of those who believe in Him. We’re not talking about discipleship here, we’re not talking about winning people for Christ, we’re not talking about living a life that is pleasing to God; we’re talking about something that is true as you sit there today, whether you are blowing it or not, this is going on. And this is a big enough thing to make Paul full of thanks to God regardless of his situation.

Now, because this is going on, people around you are effected, but that is only secondary to the point. This thing is going on in you between Christ and God, and because of that, others can sense something about you, and they will be either drawn to it or repelled by it. You are a spiritual magnet, and depending on the polarity of those around you, some will be attracted to you and others will be pushed away. And what can you do about this? Nothing.

The point of this truth is not to have you do anything about it. The point is awareness. Paul wants us to be aware of this. He wants us to know that we are having an effect in the world wherever we go, whatever we are doing — even when we are blowing it. Remember that was the context of this — Paul’s missed an opportunity for the gospel — and yet, he is still having an effect anyway. Most of it is for God; some of it is for the people around him, but all of it is triggered by the Spirit of God in him, and nothing he can start, stop or enhance.

Remember, the new covenant is nothing from us and everything from God. Here God is carrying out this incredible drama in you, with or without your knowledge, and it’s big enough to know that this is why you were put here on this earth: so Christ can continue to be on earth in you and through you. That is the new covenant.

21 Day Challenge:

In the Roman triumphal parade we talked about yesterday, to the prisoners in chains following the conquering general’s chariot, the fragrance of the incense was an odor of death.  But to those who were part of the army, and to the citizens of Rome who had been spared the threat to the city, that fragrance was a fragrance of life.

Action Item:

  1. Ever find yourself frustrated, trying through your feeble efforts to do something for God, only to find out God was doing something in you all along? We all do. Tell us a story where you can laugh at yourself, trying to do something for God – when all along it was God doing something through you, that He led in triumph by Jesus Christ at the very moment of your frustration.
  2. Tell a story when you were aware someone was either being attracted or repelled by the aroma of Christ in you.


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3 Responses to 21-Day Challenge: Day 3

  1. Markus says:

    I remember one occasion where I tried to do my share in a ministry. Basically, I felt that it was important and everything, but after a while I realised that I was supposed to simply accept many things and to not ask any questions. I abandoned that ministry soon after that realisation. I cannot really laugh about it though, I rather shake my head. It helped me to accept questions though, especially questions related to matters of faith. In a way I knew it before, but this experience confirmed to me that being accepting of questions is a sign for a strong faith. I guess that is such a triumph?

    As for the second question, well, some people are attracted by my faith, but it is usually those who already believe very much alike to me anyway. Others are rather curious, because I am not exactly what they expect from a Christian. As for the second part… initially I was about to tell a story of an Odinist who did obviously not like a Christian to sit right next to him in a club, but frankly, I think he was rather repelled by his own idea of what a Christian is. To be honest, I do not know whether I ever repelled somebody because “of the aroma of Christ in me”.

  2. Robert Smith says:

    There has rarely been a sweeter scent, in the last 100-years, than that emitted by Louie Zamperini, who passed away this morning at 97 years old. He was truly a model of God’s Fragrance – the sort of person we should all aspire to emulate.

    The following are comments by Laura Hillenbrand, Louie’s biographer, from her Facebook page:

    It is with tears and the heaviest heart that I share the news of the passing of Louie Zamperini. He died peacefully in his sleep last night, surrounded by his loved ones. He lived ninety-seven beautiful, extraordinary years.

    Louie was my beloved friend, my surrogate grandfather, a man who threw laughter and light across my dark days, my hero, my steadying hand. To know him, to be in the presence of his radiant optimism, his sparkling wit, and the love in which he lavished everyone around him, was a privilege and a pleasure and an indescribable joy. In a life of almost unimaginable drama, he experienced supreme triumphs, but also brutal hardship, incomprehensible suffering, and the cruelty of his fellow man. He was an airman, a plane crash victim, a castaway, he was attacked by sharks and strafed by his enemy, he was a POW and a slave, he struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder. But Louie greeted every challenge of his long journey with singular resilience, determination and ingenuity, with a ferocious will to survive and prevail, and with hope that knew no master. His life would not be a sad story because he would not allow it to be. His story is a lesson in the potential that lies within all of us to summon strength amid suffering, love in the face of cruelty, joy from sorrow. Of the myriad gifts he has left us, the greatest is the lesson of forgiveness.

    Farewell to the grandest, most buoyant, most generous soul I ever knew. Thank you, Louie, for all you gave to me, to our country, and to the world. I will never forget our last, laughing talk, your singsong “I love you! I love you!” and the words you whispered to me when you last hugged me goodbye, words that left me in happy tears, words that I will remember forever. I will love you and miss you to the end of my days.
    Godspeed, sweet Louie.

    Laura Hillenbrand, Author of “Seabiscuit: An American Legend” and “Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption.”

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