As Christians, there will never be a point in time when everyone will like us. Jesus was perfect, and still people hated him. Why?
Because of the aroma that flows out from Christ.
Paul says something very interesting here in this passage.
But 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. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. (14-16)
The picture here is of a Roman general leading his troops in a victory parade. And among those following him were the priests who would scatter sweet smelling incense out onto the streets.
For those celebrating the victory, it was the fragrance of life and victory. But to those who were in chains, it was the stench of their own death staring them in the face.
In the same way, we are God’s priests, following our General who won the victory at the cross. And as we spread the fragrance of the knowledge of him, to those who are saved and to those who hear the message and believe, we are the smell of ultimate victory and life.
But there are many others who hear what we say, and to them, it has the stench of death. Why? Because it shows them their sin, and it shows them where their sin is leading them: to eternal damnation in hell. And they hate it. They hate their sin being called sin. And they hate the idea that they will be held accountable for it. To them, Jesus is the stench of death leading them to their own death (HCSB). And because Jesus is in us, we become that stench to them as well.
To many others, however, Jesus is the fragrance of life leading to life eternal (HCSB). And so when they see Christ in us, we become the fragrance of life to them as well.
I love the words of Jim Elliot who once said,
Father, make of me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road; make me a fork, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.
How about you? When people see you, do they encounter the fragrance of Christ? And are they forced to make a choice, turning one way or another, to eternal life or eternal death, on facing Christ in you?