2 Corinthians 2:15-17
“For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:15-17)
Championship Christianity is our theme today as we find it in 2 Corinthians. God has called us to be champions, not one’s who are “also rans.” Who is a champion who consistently wins? Not necessarily always but consistently. And you and I were born to this; our birthright as a new breed to live victoriously for Jesus’ sake. All of us stumble and fail. What then is the need? Life does not have to be that way. We need to get back in a relationship of obedience and faith. But why does God build champions? Is he preparing you and me as a splendid trophy for some celestial museum? He is not. We’re not to be static symbols of his power; but working models of his life. We are called to follow hard after him. And so consider that theme; “follow the leader.”
If we follow, where does he lead? In two of the passages in 2 Corinthians 2 and in 2 Corinthians 5, we have magnificent presentations of what a victorious Christian life is and how we may be champions; victorious, successful in the Christian walk or the Christian race. How do we follow the leader and what is the purpose of this life? Now there are other purposes. But a chief purpose, according to these two passages, is that we might bring others to faith, that we might bring others to this kind of quality of life. And these two passages help us also to understand how we can be successful in that. Tells us by demonstration, by proclamation, by reconciliation.
Look again at the 2 Corinthians 2:14 demonstration, as we follow in his triumphal procession. To what end? Through us Jesus defuses the fragrance of his knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved, and among those who are perishing.
Everywhere we go we are designed to exude his fragrance, not the essence of self, but the fragrance of Christ. We follow with him, in him, and he makes our life beautiful. Then what happens? People who can’t see the invisible begin to see the invisible made visible in you and in me. And when they see it, well, they all run to it and embrace it? Well now, if that’s not what happened with the original, how can we expect it always to happen with the reproduction? In fact, the majority of those who visibly saw the original, crucified Him.
And we have here, the strange phenomenon that when the very fragrance of Christ is released upon among us, some are saved through it, and some perish through it. The results are mixed. Now, of course, you move among people and release instead of the fragrance of Christ, the essence of self. We are a caricature of Christ. We are not a legitimate genuine reflection and accurate interpretation of Christ so that they get a false impression of what He is like and yet we bear his name. Oh, what a foul odor. What noxious poisonous fumes that does indeed result in death.
But that’s not what this passage is about. This passage is about those who release the fragrance of Christ, or those who are not perfect working models but authentic working models. What happens? Well, there are many who will come to faith in Christ, but there are also many who will reject it. No one who has seen an authentic replica of Jesus Christ will be able to stand before the Judge can say “but you didn’t communicate, you didn’t tell me. You didn’t let me know.” It becomes death upon death. Now some feel that when they have lived a reasonably consistent life that their responsibility is discharged. But notice what Paul says in the 17th verse, “we speak” not just demonstration, but proclamation. “We speak in the sight of God in Christ.” You follow the Leader. He not only demonstrates that beautiful quality of life. But he brought the words of eternal life.
He proclaimed the way to life. If we just demonstrate and not proclaim it wouldn’t exactly be considered good news. In fact, the more perfectly a person could demonstrate without explaining how he got that way, it would be bad news.
But the first thing we must do in this proclamation, according to this verse, is to check our motives. Notice what he says. If we proclaim with a false motive, then that motive belies the proclamation and leads people away from the life rather than to the life. Because our Lord Jesus did not speak the truth to serve himself.
The proclamation is aimed at something else, reconciliation. God’s purpose is not attained until the aliens and until the prodigals are reconciled to him. If we go out and search for lost sheep but never find them and bring them home. His heart is still broken because his purpose is not merely that we demonstrate and proclaim, but that we bring people to reconciliation. He is taking the initiative. He is making the reconciliation. And we are fellow workers, just to follow on. Fellow runners in the race, reconciling men to God. Where does he go? Out into the highways and the hedges, out to the unreached, to the very ends of the earth. That’s where he goes. Are you going to follow him? Follow the leader. He demonstrated his life in proclaiming the truth, in reconciling as a servant, and an ambassador of the King of Kings.