I have been studying the book of 2 Corinthians lately, and God has allowed me to look at this letter through new lenses focusing on what the Apostle Paul says about our new identity in Christ. I am not finished with this study yet, but so far I have been reminded that we are saints (1:1) and the aroma of Christ (2:14) among both those who are being saved, and those who are perishing.
What is interesting is that depending on those we are around at any given time, we are either the fragrance of life or the stench of death. At first glance, it appears that we are the fragrance of life to those who are being saved, and the stench of death to those who are perishing. However, if we look more closely at the sentence structure, we can conclude that Paul was saying that we are the stench of death to those who are being saved, and the fragrance of life to those who are perishing. Paul mentioned several times that we are to die to self, be crucified with Christ, and lay our lives on the altar as a living sacrifice. “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3, NIV). He also said that our lives and testimonies should be attractive to a lost world around us.
Therefore, he challenged the Corinthian church to live among Christians (those who are being saved) in such a way that we model death to ourselves and our old ways of life, choosing instead to live what some would call the “cruciform life,” or cross-shaped life, which is a life defined by the cross of Christ. Paul further challenged them to live among those who are perishing in such a way that the fragrance of their lives would lead unbelievers from the path of spiritual death into the promise of a new life in Christ.
In light of this new perspective, I have been asking myself lately, “Do I really die daily like Paul? Does my life challenge believers to make their lives a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God?” I am also reflecting on whether or not my life exudes the aroma of Christ to those in this world who are perishing without the knowledge of Him who is calling them from death to life.
Keith West is the founding President of Latitude GLC, a non-profit ministry in Rockwall, Texas. Keith believes his calling is to be a "Barnabas" to the next generation of spiritual leaders.