Monday, April 20, 2009

Ambassadors for Christ

Over the last three weeks I have written about who we are in Christ. My goal is that many will discover their new identity in Christ and what that means, or for some to be gently reminded of their privilege and responsibility. Today I am going to reflect on how we are ambassadors.

In the secular world an ambassador would be someone who represents a country. This person goes to other countries as a representation of the appearance, attitude, political viewpoint and religion of their people. As Christians we have the same responsibility to the world around us. As a member of God's family with our position firmly established as saints and soldiers for Christ, we represent "our family" (which includes God, Jesus Christ, our church, and all fellow believers) to the world around us. Our responsibility is spelled our very clear in God's Word when it says, "So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf. Be reconciled to God." (2 Corinthians 5:16-20) We are not just representing God but are also responsible for getting His message across to others. But how are we doing it?

Some are not representing God to the world at all. They are what I like to call secret ambassadors. "Shhhhhhhhhhhhh. Let's not tell anyone who we are." Secret ambassadors don't hurt the cause for Christ but they don't help it either. They like to spend time with only fellow embassy employees. They seldom mix with the citizens of the country they are in. They might feel uncomfortable around people in the world because of their different language (cursing), strange customs (tattoos, piercings), and hold different values (drinking, cheating, not honoring the Sabbath day). These type of ambassadors prefer to associate with people they already know and feel comfortable. They do not recognize spirit-led opportunities to reach out to the citizens of this world even when they walk right in their own church. This makes their responsibility of reconciliation IMPOSSIBLE.

Then we go to the opposite end of the spectrum to overzealous ambassadors. They blare their thoughts and feelings of this world from their mountain top banging the Bible over the citizen's heads. Instead of being spirit-led, they push themselves and the message into places they were not welcomed. They are not interested in getting close to people, being involved in their lives, loving them, resolving doubts, or working through conflicts. Sometimes they do good but often they do more harm. Overzealous ambassadors can cause a bigger gap with seekers of the kingdom using intimidation and high-pressure tactics.

Then of course there are the spirit-led ambassadors who are effective in representing Christ and getting the message of reconciliation across to the citizens of this world. They long for opportunities to be a witness and pray for divine wisdom on how to do it. They ask God to help them "be wise in the way I act toward outsiders; making the most of every opportunity" (Colossians 4:5). They pray "help 'my conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that I may know how to answer everyone'" (Colossians 4:6) They take seriously the words of Peter when he said, "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" (1 Peter 3:15).

What do we do with this knowledge that we are ambassadors? We look for opportunities to build bridges of reconciliation with our neighbors, coworkers, family members, all acquaintances, and even those who consider themselves our enemies. Pray for a heart filled with God's love for others and a hunger to see them reconciled to God. Then take notice on how you behave around others. Do you give off a friendly, approachable vibe? Be aware that many times the world views God through what they see in you. How are you representing God?


1 comment:

  1. That is exactly what the pastor from Jamaica spoke about last night....getting God's power out from the four walls of the church and reaching your community.