Christians remind the world that they are lost
Why are Christians hated? Besides the obvious hypocrisy so blatantly found in the church
and their pious attitudes associated, there is one other reason found in this passage in vs 15, 16. Paul refers to the triumphal return parade of Roman soldiers, where the captives were led in the procession at the end of the parade on display as they marched to certain death. “We Christians are the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ, we are the “aroma of Christ” among those being saved but also “the smell of death” for those who are perishing. Christians remind the people of the world that they are lost and perishing if they do not receive Christ for life. You could say that we are the smell of their
own death sentence and approaching punishment even though that often it is the Christian who is being persecuted to death. However, we are the ones who will live forever as we have been made a pleasing aroma of Christ to God. Instead of turning to God for forgiveness of sin, people would rather rid themselves of the Christian presence for reminding them of their sin. This is very much like the story of Cain and Abel where Abel’s very existence was a stark reminder of Cain’s rejected offering by God, which drove him to kill Abel instead of repenting and bringing a proper offering by faith.
Triumphant in Christ
2 Cor 2 12 Now when I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me, 13 I still had no peace of mind, because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said good-by to them and went on to Macedonia. 14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. 15 For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task? 17 Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God.
As we ponder God’s character from the above passage, I wonder if God would answer our signature question below in the following way…
Who are you Lord?
I AM the Living God who places my Spirit in you to live like me in this lost and fallen world. I AM the God who will judge the living and the dead, not by good works, but by who will allow my Son to forgive their sin. I will place in you the divine nature, which will be your letter of recommendation and my approval to the world that your message is from me. As you walk in the Spirit, all will know that you are different and that difference will make people see their own sinfulness and need resulting both positively and negatively.
I AM the victorious God who will ultimately win. You can fight me now and then later bow to my lordship before my judgment throne to your doom, or you can acknowledge me now before men for eternal reward. I first came as a suffering servant on a donkey as the prince of peace, to save man from their sin. But when I come again, all will see me riding on a white horse as the conquering king of the universe with judgment in my hand. Now salvation costs you nothing, but at that time, it may cost you your life.
I AM the God of peace. I can give you peace which passes all (human) understanding if you will let me. If you seek me first with all your heart, you will not need to understand your situations as my peace will see you through them. My presence is more important. Rely on me in your decisions and I will guide you into what to do by my peace. Use your mind yes, but don’t rely solely on it. Gain wisdom yes, but let it be from a heavenly perspective not earthly. Ask and I will give you wisdom. Seek counsel yes, but seek Godly counsel.
Peace of God or lack thereof can confirm our decisions
In Acts 16 Paul speaks of closed doors by the Holy Spirit to minister in Asia and Bithynia but an open door to go to Troas. When our eyes are on the Lord and as we look around ourselves to see where God is giving opportunities to minister, we need wisdom, peace and provision to know which opportunity is the right one to pursue. Here in vs 13 we see a lack of peace because of a situation which came up in Titus not being there waiting for Paul. God can lead us through lack of peace just as well as through peace – provided we are not content to sit on our rears doing nothing in the mean time. As this age presents us with many opportunities and needs of the world for help and provision, combining these two passages gives us a good insight into how to proceed in ministry direction. This passage says that when Titus was not there, Paul had no peace to stay there even though the door was open, so they headed to Macedonia from where he had received the invitation from the man in the vision by way of a kind of “heavenly Skype”. So the key points of leading are Invitation to help (whether or not it is in a vision), open doors to proceed, and peace or lack of it from God.
Remember old Jonah? He had a calling to go to Nineveh, but he chose to go the opposite way. He had an open door to flee to Tarsus on the boat, he had provision for passage, and he even had peace to sleep through the storm. But the whole time he was running the wrong way. These things are predicated upon our obedience to God. Only people who are actively seeking God will benefit from these things in determining where to serve him next. Invitations are all around you. Answer the call. Walk through those doors. Listen to the Spirit and let his peace confirm your actions.
More to come,