I am not a real big fan of coffee. In fact I don’t drink it and neither does my wife. Coffee has a smell that is unmistakable. It fills a room. When you leave a coffee shop everyone you meet for the rest of the day will know where you have been. Different coffee shops have different smells. My wife can even tell me which coffee shop I have been working at depending on the smell on my cloths. Folders had a whole series of commercials that finished with a little jingle. Why do I go to coffee shops? Primarily the wifi. Secondarily the tea. I love tea, but tea doesn’t have the same smell. It doesn’t stick with you the rest of the day.
In 2 Corinthians 2:14-3:6, the Apostle Paul writes that we are to be an aroma, a fragrance that spreads everywhere. Here is the whole text:
14But 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. 15For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task? 17Unlike 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.
1Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? 2You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. 3You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
4Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. 5Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. 6He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
Looking at it a bit deeper we see that it doesn’t say that we can be the aroma. It says that “we are to God the aroma.” So this isn’t really a choice. This is a fact. Following Jesus means that we carry an aroma with us.
A second important element is that we are not doing this for our own gain. Paul is clear about this in verse 17. Instead he tells us that we speak on behalf of God, we are sent from God. Back in verse 16 he asks, “Who is equal to the task?” in other words, who is able to represent God? We don’t share this out of our own ability. Rather we share out of our experience with God. In chapter 3 verse 5 he says, “but our confidence comes from God.”
How do we gain that confidence and begin to emanate the aroma? I believe we need to begin with our own relationship with God. Our experiences with Jesus are what compel us. Are you spending regular time with Jesus by reading scripture and praying?
Secondly, I believe we need to begin telling others about our experiences with Jesus. I think there is a common misconception in the church today that we can just live our lives full of good deeds and that somehow, sometime, someone will ask about Jesus and we will then have an opportunity to share with them about the good news of Jesus. The problem with that is there are a lot of good people out there. Without telling them why we do what we do, a person would never know to even ask about Jesus. To be clear, I think we still want to do good deeds, but we begin to partner that with our verbal witness. I have the goal that within the first 5 minutes of meeting someone they find out that I am a husband, father, geek, Minnesota Twins fan and a Jesus follower. That helps frame future conversations.
As I was growing up, folders had a series of commercials that ended with a jingle, “The best part of waking up is folders in your cup.” My parents drank folders. So every time the commercial came on, I could almost smell the coffee being made. When people think about you, do they immediately think about Jesus?
What is your aroma?