The Fragrance of Faith and Recovery
2 Corinthians 2:15,16 We are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.
If you go to recovery meetings long enough, you will eventually encounter an intoxicated attendee. As uncomfortable as this is, it has always fascinated me. It just boggles my mind why anyone would want to associate with those seeking recovery while high. When I was lost in my own using, the last people I wanted was to be around were those in recovery.
I wanted what they had but I was unwilling to do what it took to get it, so their light blinded my eyes. Their recovery was to my addiction as the cross is to a vampire. I should have been happy for those who were sober. How could I be happy though, when their success reflected my failure?
Now, it is an altogether different story. It is now a fantastic thing to see another addict find recovery and faith. The difference is in my condition, of course. When using and unable to accept the truth, I despised those in recovery. I told myself that they were fooling themselves and that they would all relapse soon. I was doing what I wanted while they were miserable in their sobriety. Just look at them, thinking they are all that. I bet they wish they could have a pill. It is only in my own sobriety and faith that I can now enjoy the recovery and faith of others.
Paul said as much in today’s passage. In an unusual metaphor, he said that faith and salvation are a refreshing fragrance to those who recognize and accept their need. As a life ring is to a drowning man, so will our faith and recovery be to those who need and want it. The converse is true as well though. The very idea of salvation will be a searing stench to those who reject it. Faith and recovery are offensive, foul concepts to those who will not or cannot see their need.
Again, the difference is not in the message, the difference is in the audience. We are not responsible for the response of our audience, we are only responsible for emitting a proper odor. If, as Christians, we are condescending, judgmental and hypocritical, then we will smell bad to everyone. If, however, we do our best to love God, love our neighbors and tell those in need what Christ has done for us, then we will smell just right.
I cannot choose sobriety for anyone else. I cannot determine another’s response to the love of Christ or the freedom found in faith. I can only live that message and share it with those who need it. I personally do not spend a lot of time trying to convince others of their need. If a man does not want God, then he will likely find my faith offensive or fanciful.
I go then, to places where I know others will at least be aware of their need. I go to jail and I go to those seeking recovery. I go as I enjoy being around others who want God. I go because I feel God wants me to share the gospel of Christ with others in need. Their response is not my responsibility. My only responsibility is to be obedient to the God who saved me.