Thursday, January 21, 2010

Stench


Normally, I do not like the smell of cigarette smoke. I also usually do not like the stench of other people’s sweat. I usually do like the small of cooking food. Even though there are two bad smells and one good one, there are some times when the combination of these smells can actually smell good to me. It is this unique aroma of going to a public gathering, such as a football game, concert, or festival.

I think it smells good to me because I associate that smell with the good times that I have had at such gatherings. However, the scent seems less pleasing when I get home and can still detect it on my clothes.

In 2 Corinthians 2, Paul is talking about how God has enabled them to spread the message of the gospel. He uses the analogy of a “triumphant procession,” which includes a unique smelling aroma. I have read that this analogy would have been familiar to his readers due to a common occurrence of that time. When the Roman army completed a conquest, they would have a triumphal parade. Amongst the pomp and circumstance, they would burn incense, which had the effect of alerting the local people. Then they would parade through the streets, bringing the prisoners of war they had captured along with them. For the prisoners, the smell would signify the intense humiliation of defeat. For everyone else, the burning incense was the smell of victory.

I think Paul used this analogy because it is good for Christians to know that people may respond to us in different ways. Although I like that “public gathering” smell because of my good experiences, others may hate it because of bad experiences. Their responses will be reflective of their past experiences as well as how we present ourselves. Both are important. We should not judge people because of their negative experience, we should try to offer replacement positive experiences. 

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