Read 2 Corinthians 2:12-17
Can you think of a smell that might smell wonderful to one person, evoking images of home and safety, while to another person smelling repulsive? The aroma of Paul’s ministry smells like life to some, and like death to others.
Paul’s words seem harsh when he says that as the aroma of Christ to God, we will be to some a fragrance from “life to life,” and to others, from “death to death.” Isn’t the good news for everyone? Isn’t the love and resurrection of Christ for everyone? Of course it is, but to some, the good news is not good.
There are those in the world who believe their status, money and power mean they are better than others. They deserve everything they have. Some people believe sacrificing everything for the love of others, especially of people who have done terrible things, as Jesus did, is to be weak. To ask for forgiveness and to forgive others is also to show weakness. If Jesus died for all, if Jesus became weak to save the weak, then what good are money, influence and strength? None of those things can buy you the love of Jesus.
The strength of God is exhibited in ways that many people call weak: forgiving others instead of wreaking vengeance; becoming human to show love, including being open and vulnerable in ways that people could get close to, and even hurt God; sacrificing everything, including life itself, for others – all of these things are seen as weak and foolish by so many, including people who call themselves Christians. When it comes to the good news that Christ died for us and that we are to follow in Christ’s footsteps, well, that doesn’t always seem like such good news. We don’t want to give up everything for others. We don’t want to become, or even seen as being, weak and vulnerable.
For those who believe that they have created their success by themselves, without support of others or providence, the good news is death. Death to all they hold dear. They cannot see the life that comes after that death. They simply see and smell the decay of all the things that could never last forever anyway.
Reflect: What things have had to die in you that you might find life? To what things are you clinging now? Which of Jesus’ commands challenges you the most?
Devotion from Megan Dosher Hansen and Michael Rinehart, A Heart for Reconciliation