Last Easter, I found great meaning in Paul’s teaching on the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5): the redeemed redeeming the lost in Jesus’ name by way of the cross. This year, I’ve backpedaled several chapters to 2 Corinthians 2 and have basked in Paul’s charge to live as ministers of the New Covenant.
First, what is the relationship between these two segments? Applying “passage unification”, we denote reconciliation as the pulse of the New Covenant minister. We are all Kingdom agents, whether we realize it or not, for the cross’ power cannot be denied; however, the choices we make influence our evangelical effectiveness. So the question is not whether we are Christ ambassadors, it’s how will we carry our respective crosses. What is our cross? It’s our callings, purposes, burdens and struggles between spirit and flesh.
Secondly, Paul offers a unique comparison between commission and fragrance that grips me. To be like Christ is to be like sweet perfume. Mary, in Mark 14, demonstrated this just as well as any of the disciples, when she anointed Jesus’ feet. In spite of shame, her dramatic exchange with Jesus captured the ultimate reason why we celebrate Passion Week. Easter is not about sweets and fertility; it’s about revering the cross, the torn veil, and the age of grace.
Repentance and beholding grace give off pleasing aromas unto the Lord. But this isn’t the only appealing scent in our repertoire. Throughout Scripture, the significance of smell is well documented. Let’s investigate some of examples:
Fragrance is linked to:
Splendor (Hosea 14:5-7)
Intimacy (Song of Solomon 4:10-12)
Sacrifice (Genesis 8:20-22/Ephesians 5:2)
Talk about good company! Mathematically, we can formulate this list so that sacrifice plus intimacy equals splendor. In other words, if we relinquish selfish arms and press near and dear into God’s heart consistently, then the glory of the Lord can be recognized.
Finally, we connect the dots one last time so that the cross can be a liaison among glory, unity and redemption. Think about Mary again. Christ could have cared less about the actual fragrance of the ointment poured on his feet. What really pleased him, and was the act enough to secure Mary’s salvation? Let’s look at reconciliation. Was the woman forgiven? Yes. Did she likely commit a higher number of sins than the disciples? Most likely. Did Jesus cherish the opportunity to reiterate the purpose of his ministry? Yes. Why? Because as his authority was glorified, Mary was being saved; thus, the link between Jesus’ identity and purpose could be evident to those still searching. The belief and faith of a fallen, desperate woman in need of a Savior had directly lined up with why God sent His one and only Son.
Paul describes being saved as a “life-giving perfume”. Why? Since Jesus came to give life to all people, we must radiate this life back to him. Anything God gives carries an amazingly sweet aura. He watches us not to stalk us, but so that when we look up to him, we can tap into that splendor Hosea references.
Next time you talk to God, make sure to smell for funky odors. Remember God never sleeps on those who need and ask to be reconciled back to him.