Read 2 Corinthians 2:14-16
14-16 Thanks be to God who leads us, wherever we are, on his own triumphant way and makes our knowledge of him spread throughout the world like a lovely perfume! We Christians have the unmistakeable “scent” of Christ, discernible alike to those who are being saved and to those who are heading for death. To the latter it seems like the very smell of doom, to the former it has the fresh fragrance of life itself. (JBP)
In a recently released movie, a Catholic priest is warning a woman against taking a certain course of action. She makes an impassioned speech in reply, essentially telling the priest he has no right to tell her what is right and wrong given the church’s record.
In the theatre where I saw that film, there were audible murmurs of support for the woman and some smattering of applause. It seems this has been a common reaction in other theatres. It seems a lot of people are fed up with representatives of the church reminding people of issues of right and wrong.
In many quarters, the church is on the nose. Rather ironic given our text tells us that we are to be like pleasant perfume! Are we giving off odour instead of perfume? Some might argue from this passage that those who find what we say offensive are those who are perishing, who are resistant to the gospel.
But is that so? Might we not come across as offensive because of the gap between what we preach and what we practise? Might not people be looking for Jesus but find it hard to encounter him because some of his people misrepresent him? If we are on the nose, how can we apply the sweet scent of the gospel to our imperfect lives?
About the only thing we can safely do is heed the saying of Micah: we act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God. Even that won’t please everyone, but it is a good start.