But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.” (2 Corinthians 2:14, NIV)
I am struggling to keep my wounded, starving body moving forward through the stream of blood, dirt and excrement flowing under our feet. I have lost all hope that my children are somewhere alive in this stampede of human misery. The stench is so intolerable that the next section of this parade carries a fortune of burning incense to replace our smell of death with a more pleasing aroma for the victorious Roman general who follows. In this spectacle, we captives play a humiliating part in the general’s victory celebration by being marched before cheering crowds to our final destinations: execution, imprisonment, or slave auction. I had heard that Christian Roman citizen Paul used the Roman Triumph as a metaphor for his spiritual transformation. The metaphor illustrates that he no longer aligns himself with the “empire victors” and their sweet smell behind me, but choses instead to be like me, an odoriferous captive, on behalf of Christ’s victory. (Imaginative Contemplation written by Janice Gutierrez)
Having no first-hand experience of the strong aromas of a Roman Triumph, we in “modern times” sometimes view this passage, 2 Corinthians 2:14, too benignly. But in Paul’s days, it was known on a visceral level. With this metaphor, Paul rejects the aroma of empire, an aroma that masks great harm to humanity, and accepts the smelly position of captive in Christ’s victory parade. In Christ’s Triumph, Paul rejoices in the victory of serving and loving humanity rather than in the conquering and destroying of it. As Christ followers, we get the same choice.
Prayer of Response:
Thanks be to God for the Spirit on me that leads me in triumph together with all of humanity in the way of good news, freedom, healing, justice, and God’s favor for all.
Questions to Ponder:
- Consider the proclamation Christ made at the beginning of his ministry, the type of triumphal victory he set out to achieve: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
- Imagine what Christ’s Triumph parade might look like. What sights? What smells? What sounds? What feelings? What people are involved doing what? Where would you find yourself in Christ’s victory parade?
- Describe your “aroma” as a captive of Christ as you go about your day-to-day life. What fragrance notes might people detect when you walk by?
—Submitted by Janice Gutierrez
Janice, our beloved past Lifesprings Executive Director currently serves on the unofficial Lifesprings International Cheerleading team as part of her Rule of Life. Go Lifesprings!