We are living in a time of unprecedented fear and instability when news from any source is mostly bad. Outrage is the norm. You’ve got people talking vaguely about dark corners and deep shadows and everyone seems to know what they’re talking about. People are afraid. Kindness is in short supply. Bullies are everywhere. Some are expecting the worst. Everyone’s guard is up. It seems as if you have to be mean-spirited in order to get by.
Into this setting, the words of the New Covenant sound like a refreshing rain on a spring day, or like something from another planet or another age. “Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God.” (2 Corinthians 2:14-15)
A sweet perfume. A Christ-like fragrance. What is that? What is he talking about? What is the fragrance of Jesus?
Well, truthfully, we don’t know because we have nothing to do with it. We don’t create it. We don’t manufacture it. We don’t put it on or take it off. We are not even aware of it. Yet it’s there nonetheless because Christ is in us. And as Christ is in us, that process gives off a fragrance of Him — the same fragrance He gave off when He was here. And that fragrance from all of us rises up to God and He is so pleased.
So what do we do about this? Is there some way we can enhance it? Some way we can set it off? Do we get the atomizer spray, or the body lotion? Are there some of us who have the pure perfume and others just get the watered down cologne? No, we simply live our lives, loving God and loving those around us and wherever we go, we can be sure that the aroma goes with us.
So with all the ill will going on in the world right now on this side of eternity, the fragrance of Jesus in you will be an attraction to those who are being drawn toward Him. They will be drawn to you. They may not even know why, but they are catching the fragrance going on between Christ and God in you. Some may not like the smell — we can’t do anything about that either — but we just keep among the them anyway, because we never know when God might open their eyes (or perhaps their nose!).
This is why we are needed in the world like never before. Jimmy and Olivia in Hong Kong, Bob in Iowa, Pat in Seattle, Rona in the U.K., Steve and Colleen in Keswick, Alberta, Canada, Frank in South Africa — that’s a lot of sweet fragrance wafting up from all over the world. Not to mention all the rest of you!
We have a legacy in the written and living word of God. It is our splendid and high calling to leave not monuments to past human successes, not empty, burned-out shells of wasted human endeavor, but the fragrance of Jesus, which will linger long after your clay pot and mine is gone and forgotten.