The Chanel perfume promised intoxicating fragrance when it left France during World War II. An American soldier struck a bargain with one of the few manufacturers whose building still stood after the Paris bombings. To supplement his army pay, he bought and sold bottles of the perfume to his buddies for their sweethearts and family. One bottle traveled across the ocean to his mother who waited for him back home.
After hearing that story over dinner with friends, the soldier’s brother retrieved the now 70 year-old perfume from the bedroom. The vintage cologne had turned dark amber, the color of aged whiskey. Time and disuse had fused its dauber to the top of the softly curved glass bottle. The fragrance forever trapped inside, perhaps deteriorated and foul-smelling.
In his second letter to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul likened those who followed Christ to a fragrance. A bouquet of scents that promised to bless the lives of others. To spread the knowledge of who they were and whose they were.
Paul’s imagery referenced a Roman tradition for recognizing military triumph. When a successful general marched his army through the city streets, Roman citizens positioned along the parade route signaled the general’s victory by burning sweet spices. All who caught wind of the aroma knew the general returned victorious from battle.
God intended our lives to signal Christ’s triumph over death. To spread the good news of His love and promise of eternal life. If we resist or refuse, we become more like that 70-year-old perfume. Over time, our hearts harden. Our color darkens with self-centeredness. Our fragrance spoils and is forever lost.
Whenever I spritz my favorite body mist, someone catches a whiff of the scent and asks, “What is that lovely perfume you’re wearing?” When we open our lives to God’s call and use whatever talents and gifts He put inside, others get a whiff and will ask, “What is that lovely fragrance you’re wearing?”
The question: How are we living in a way that releases a Christ-like fragrance?
But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. (2 Corinthians 2:14-15, NLT)
Fellow writer and speaker, Jeanne Doyon inspired this blog with her devotional on this same verse. Read her guest blog by clicking this link.