You are . . . A Sweet Aroma

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in His triumph in Christ,  and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.”     2 Corinthians 2:14

It was the day after my birthday, and I was getting my “gift” from my husband – a shopping trip with a budget that I could spend on whatever I wanted.  My sweet, amazing husband did work in his car while I shopped and answered his phone by saying, “Angel’s shopping taxi service!  How may I help you?” whenever I called.

I was almost done exploring the new outlet mall in Charlotte when I saw the Crabtree and Evelyn shop.  I had to go in to see if they had something I had been looking for for almost six years.  You see, one of the hotels on our honeymoon had the Crabtree and Evelyn LaSource toiletries in our room, and I loved the scent of it.  When we got back from our honeymoon, I went to the Crabtree and Evelyn store at our mall in search of the LaSource shampoo and conditioner.  I was so disappointed to find that they had a few things with the scent, but nothing I would really use and not the shampoo I wanted.  So ever since then whenever I have seen a Crabtree and Evelyn display, I look for LaSource shampoo.

LaSourceIt turned out that my birthday was my lucky day!  They had it!  Granted, it was in huge bottles with a ridiculous price tag on them.  But hey – it was my birthday and I’d been looking for six years and I still loved the scent and it was in my budget.  So I bought that bottle of LaSource shampoo!

I tell this little story to illustrate the value of a “sweet aroma”.  Maybe you can relate to making a purchase like that.  Most of us as women have scents that we love whether it is lotion or shampoo or soap or a candle.  When you think about it, Bath and Body Works and Yankee Candle wouldn’t exist if fragrances weren’t very important to us!

Did you ever stop to think that you are a “sweet aroma”?  That is what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 2:14.  Actually, the aroma isn’t you – it’s the aroma of Christ that you carry everywhere you go.

Commentators tell us that the imagery Paul uses here is of a Roman triumphal entry of an emperor or general after they had conquered in battle.  There would be a huge procession that sometimes would last all day long.  The procession would be made up of animals and other booty that had been seized along with all of the people who had been captured.  In the front of the procession would be those who would be released to become Roman citizens and in the back were those who would be executed. 1

“In these triumphal entries there was always the burning of incense.  . . . All the way through the procession would be clouds of smoke from the incense, sometimes even obscuring the procession as it passed by.”2
roman triumph
So Paul uses this imagery that his readers would be familiar with to describe the confidence we can have, especially as we seek to share the gospel with others.  Jesus leads us in His victory, and we are the incense bearers bearing the aroma of Him to all those around us.  I love that the word “always” is in this sentence.  He “always leads us in His triumph” and always makes the aroma of the knowledge of Him evident through us.

Can you imagine our world without sweet aromas?  What would you miss each day?  For me it would be the scent of my shampoo and soap in the shower, the Bath and Body Works soap as I wash my hands, the fresh scent of the laundry as I take it out of the dryer, the smell of gardenia as I walk by my neighbor’s house, the smell of bacon cooking on the stove – and the smell of the candle that takes away the yucky grease smell that follows.  It would be a sad world without these fragrances and many more.

Similarly, our world would not be the same without believers emanating the aroma of Christ.  And your part of that world wouldn’t be the same either without you.  Your co-workers and neighbors and friends need you to be there to manifest the fragrance of Christ.  Of course, it’s not always well-received.  Paul goes on to say that to those who are perishing (who reject Christ), our aroma is really an aroma of death.  But to those who are being saved, we are an aroma of life!

Paul finishes this thought by saying, “And who is adequate for these things?”  I imagine that, like me, you feel that way.  How can any of us be adequate to be a fragrance of Christ?  But just a few sentences later, Paul answers his own question – “Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God,” (2 Corinthians 3:5).  He is the One who makes us adequate.  So we go back to the beginning – “Thanks be to God”.

1 Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee.  Volume 5, page 95.
2 Ibid.

 

You are . . . A Sent One

Several years ago, the ministry I worked with sent us a test version of a Bible study to do with college students.  It opened my eyes to something I had never seen before in the book of John.

In this gospel, John the Baptist describes Jesus in John 3:34 as “He whom God has sent”.  Then John records Jesus describing Himself 37 times as being sent by God.  Thirty-seven times!  You’d think I would have noticed that before!

But after being described as the One sent by God over and over, Jesus turns to His disciples in John 20:21 and says, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”

Jesus is the Sent One and the Sender.  And He wants His disciples to see themselves as “sent ones”.

Have you ever thought of yourself that way – as a “sent one”?  As someone who has been sent by Christ to represent Him and carry on His mission wherever you are?

Often it seems like “sent ones” need to be missionaries, people who are commissioned in front of a church or a ministry.  But Jesus sends all of His disciples to go and make more disciples (Matthew 28:18-20).

I love how a friend and the leadership of my church recently illustrated this concept.

DanielleDanielle is a young woman who started coming to my Bible study last fall.  As someone who is passionate about Christ and also open and honest about her life, she was a joy to have in the group.  Danielle takes her passion for Christ into the workplace.  She sees herself as a worker in the harvest there and asks the Lord to give her opportunities to reach her co-workers for Christ.

When Danielle graduated last year, the job she found locally was as a contract worker.  Since her contract was up in May, she began looking for jobs this winter.  At a point when the process was discouraging, a friend encouraged her to look in all kinds of cities – not just in North Carolina.  One of the places Danielle looked was Portland, Oregon.  This was because our church sends a team of college students there every summer to help some church plants reach out to their city.  In fact, since Danielle’s contract was up in May and her roommate was leading the team, she had already signed up to go on this trip herself.

The Lord ended up providing a job for Danielle in Portland and in another major U.S. city far from North Carolina.  As she prayed about which one to take, she decided on Portland because of the connection our church has to a church plant there.  She knew she would have a church family as she was far from home, but she also knew she was going somewhere that had a huge need for the gospel.

A couple of weeks ago was Danielle’s last Sunday at church before she left for Portland.  The church showed a video of her sharing her story and then commissioned her at the end of the service.

Danielle commissionedYes, my church commissioned someone who was moving to take a new job.  I loved it!

As I sat in the service, I realized that my church saw Danielle as an answer to their prayers.  I am sure that as they have sent college students to Portland each summer, they have prayed for people to go live in Portland.  They have a heart for this city and to see it reached for Christ.

Danielle saw her decision as being yielded to the Lord as she trusted Him to provide a job for her, being willing to go wherever He wanted her to go and wanting to be used by Him to reach those who don’t know Him.

And so Danielle goes to Portland for a job – and as one who is sent.  Sent by Christ and also sent by her church – a church that valued her going as both a worker in a job and a worker in the harvest.

You may think, “I’m not like Danielle.  I don’t know if I could move across the country to be ‘sent’.”  Well, maybe that’s what God will ask of you, but most likely it’s not.  Instead I think what’s most important is how we see ourselves – how we see our purpose.  Do you and I see ourselves as “sent” by God into our job, our neighborhood, our community?  Do we believe He has a purpose for us there to impact lives and further His kingdom?

Do you hear Jesus saying to you, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you,”?  If you do, it could change your life – and the lives of those around you who need to know Christ.

To watch Danielle share her story, click here.

Verses in John where Jesus is described as being sent by God:

3:34                 6:39                8:26                14:24
4:34                 6:44                8:29                15:21
5:23                 6:57                 8:42                16:5
5:24                 7:16                 9:4                   17:3
5:30                 7:18                 10:36              17:8
5:36                 7:28                 11:42               17:21
5:37                 7:29                 12:44               17:23
5:38                 7:33                 12:45               17:25
6:29                 8:16                 12:49
6:38                 8:18                 13:20

(Taken from a field test version of a Bible study called “The Mission” by Campus Crusade for Christ/Cru)