Stories & Commentaries

The Fragrance of Our Gracious God

“Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place” (2 Cor. 2:14).

We’d never miss the Armistice Day Parade. My dad would take us out of school, the only time of the year, and drive us to downtown Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. We’d go to the center of town and the people — the national armies — would march on and on.

istock kneading dough

Photo by iStock

One year, after having been there many years, I made a decision: I would join the parade. I jumped right in line with the soldiers, and I was marching. All of a sudden, I felt these two strong hands pick me up by the shoulders, pull my feet off the ground, and put me down on the curb. I was told, “You know you don’t belong in the parade.” And it was true. I did not belong in the parade. I never fought in the war. Those that did were hurt, twisted, and wounded. But there was a time when they all celebrated, and that was the Armistice Day Parade. I didn’t belong.

But I do belong in God’s parade.

The fact is, when we consider the work of God and what it is that God wants to accomplish, everyone belongs in the parade that Paul is talking about. Thanks be to God who always leads us! Who always leads us in a joyful procession as a captive of Christ. We join the parade for a reason.

What a responsibility that lays on each of us! We are now to be, here in Columbia, and around our division, the fragrance of a gracious God.

His Fragrance in the World

I worked my way through school as a baker. I’d get to the bakery at 4 o’clock in the morning and bake all day. When I’d see my wife, she would say to me, “You smell like the bakery.”

Because I had been immersed in the bakery, and cooking and baking several hours every day, day after day, the fragrance lingered.
When we spend time with Jesus, we exhibit His presence and His fragrance to the world around us.

I praise God for each person who played such a significant role in preparing this building. But as beautiful as this building is . . . this is not for us. This place is dedicated to God.

This is for God — and in all that we do the community around us, the businesses around us, need to feel and sense the fragrance of Jesus Christ.

Kindness and outreach—we need to bring it closer to home. It’s so easy for us to talk about our witnessing. Well, guess what? That fragrance needs to be ever present in our relationships here and those we will build. It needs to be present in the way we treat each other, the way we talk.

Taking It Up a Notch

But we also need rousing discussions in this building. We need people who are not afraid to talk and to speak — and to be creative in the name of Jesus. That’s about the fragrance, too. We don’t exhibit what God wants us to exhibit if we all remain silent.

I probably wouldn’t jump into the Armistice Day Parade today. However, I want to be involved in the parade that Jesus is leading. And I want you all to feel comfortable enough and happy enough and driven enough to be a part of the parade that Jesus wants to lead us on.

Our department directors and the people who work and support each department have done wonderful things. Supportive things. I praise God for this work.

I don’t believe that the North American Division falls behind any other division in terms of the outreach that has gone on through this community in every department. And some have engaged in exceedingly creative outreach — I praise God for that. But we’ve got to take it up a notch.

Jesus is going to come soon, and we must not only be ready, but be aggressively poised to spread His fragrance in our building and outside it.

Let’s be triumphant in Christ as we share the fragrance of our gracious God.

— Daniel R. Jackson is president of the North American Division; this article is based on his worship talk on Sept. 18, 2017, the first day of work at the new NAD headquarters in Columbia, Maryland.