“For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.”
(2 Corinthians 2:15)
I spoke last Sunday about us being the aroma of Jesus to the world. Of us carrying with us everywhere we go the fragrance of him - through our prayers, our actions and our words.
If you want to smell of something then the closer you get to it the more you will smell of it (I didn't get that science A level for nothing!). That's totally true when it comes to Christ. The closer we are to him, the more we will carry his fragrance into our world.
I spoke about two keys to us being close to Jesus:
- Reading the Bible and doing what it says
- Being filled with the Holy Spirit and following his promptings
Over the years I've used lots of different tools to help me in my daily Bible readings. Reading through the whole Bible in a year. Bible reading notes such as Every Day with Jesus. Bible pot luck where you just turn to a random passage every day and read it. YouVersion Bible reading plans. All of them (apart from perhaps the pot luck approach) have been very helpful. However, recently I've been doing something different which I'm finding really fruitful, and which I thought I'd share.
Tom Wright, who is one of the leading experts on the New Testament, and was for a while the Bishop of Durham, has written a series of commentaries on the books of the New Testament. (He has also written a number of other books, including the brilliant "Surprised by Hope" on how wrong we've got our picture of heaven).
In each of the commentaries he does his own short translation of a passage, then explains what that passage means in language that ordinary people like you and me can understand. It isn't exhaustive in that sometimes he'll pick up on one idea in a passage and not comment on another one (which can be a bit frustrating if it was the other one which really gripped you) but there's an incredible to depth to his understanding, not only of what the passage meant to its original audience but also how it applies to us today. As you go through you also really get the sense of what the whole of the book is saying, rather than getting stuck in the detail of a specific verse without being able to see the bigger picture.
So far I've worked my way through his commentary on the book of Romans, and I'm now about half way through his commentary on Revelation. If I'm honest the bit of Revelation between the letters to the seven churches at the beginning, and the picture of the new Heaven and the new Earth at the end, has always been a complete mystery to me. That's no longer the case, and I'm genuinely looking forward every morning to get to read the next section.
My plan is over the next few years to work my way though all his New Testament commentaries, probably reading a gospel next and then seeing where I go from there.
It may be that you've got an amazing Bible reading plan which is working brilliantly for you. If so praise God. But if not why not choose a book of the New Testament and begin working your way through it with Tom Wright at your side. I don't think you'll regret it, and you'll hopefully end up smelling of Jesus a whole load more!