15For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; 16to the one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? – 2 Corinthians 2:15-16
I have a tendency to let the trash go a bit too long before taking it out, something Courtney reminds me of rather often, especially during those weeks when we have had fish or seafood for dinner. I can put up with a slight smell more than most people can, especially when I’m avoiding work I don’t want to be doing. Paul compares Christians to “the aroma of Christ,” which is rather fitting, because, frankly, we often stink, much like fish left in the trash can too long.
I could create a long list of reasons why we stink, and I’m sure you could, as well, but I think the underlying reason for most of our bad smell comes from our inability to see the humanity in other people. I don’t mean in major ways, though we certainly stink there, as well, but in the more day-to-day interactions, the ones with the people who work down the hall or live down the street. Courtney and I just took a group of students to New Orleans, and there were several who just got on my nerves. Not surprisingly, I was not as kind and loving to them as I should have been; I essentially did not treat them as the children of God that they are, though I was never mean to them, of course.
Paul recognizes this problem, and he provides a reminder to help the Corinthians (and us) remember who they and we are. Later in this passage, he writes, “3and you show that you are a letter of Christ, prepared by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts (3:3b).” We are the letter Christ has written with the Spirit of God, and we are read by everyone we interact with. Thus, he is calling us to be love letters of God written to the people whom God loves, which is everyone. All of our words and our deeds convey the words of God to other people, so we must choose them all wisely so that God can be read clearly by those who need to hear what he has written to them.
God, help us to see you in others and to be you to them. Write your letter of love on our hearts; make us your love letters to the world. Amen.