In Sunday’s sermon, we learned that, for those of us in Christ, three things are true:
- We have been made new.
- We have been completely forgiven.
- We have been given a new message and a new purpose.
I totally get the first two on the list. I may need the occasional reminder, and I may not always feel like they’re true, but I fully understand that they’re true all the same. Made new and completely forgiven. Got it.
Oh, but that third one, though! I struggle with that one. Not so much with the statement itself, but with the ramifications of it. So, what is this “new purpose”?
We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us…
— 2 Corinthians 5:20 (NIV)
So, I’m an ambassador now? What do ambassadors even do, anyway?
Ambassadors live in a foreign land.
The Bible tells us repeatedly that the kingdom of God is not of this world. So, even though we live in the world, our allegiance lies elsewhere. That makes us foreigners here.
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,
— Philippians 3:20 (ESV)
In fact, this world is not just foreign. It’s hostile.
If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
— John 15:19 (ESV)
We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.
— 1 John 5:19 (NIV)
An ambassador is the official representative of his homeland and its leader.
This fact carries with it two huge responsibilities. First of all, as Christ’s official representatives, we are responsible for carrying out his commands.
And [Jesus] said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
— Matthew 22:37–39 (ESV)
Secondly, as Christ’s official representatives, everything we do is assumed to be on his behalf. To think that there are people who will likely judge our Lord and Savior by what I say or do? That’s just scary, because I know for a fact that I’m capable of all sorts of stupid.
Surely you’ve heard tales of travelers who have had bad experiences with people while journeying abroad. You know the story. Your neighbor, Janice, gets back from a trip to Paris and tells you about an unfortunate run-in she had with one of the locals. She ends the story with a disgusted claim like, “The French are so rude.”
Never mind that the encounter could’ve been a big misunderstanding, or that the offender may have been a nice guy who was just having a really bad day, or the fact that she met dozens of other French men and women who were wonderful in every way. Thanks to a run-in with one guy, Janice condemns an entire nation of people.
Not to mention, that guy was just some random Joe Schmoe (or Jean-Pierre) on the street! We, however, are Christ’s ambassadors. Really think about that for a minute. Let it sink in before I hit you with one last facet of ambassadorship.
Ambassadors are never off duty.
It’s easy for me to think of myself as Christ’s representative when my words and actions, you know, represent Christ. But I’m not just his ambassador when I’m praying with a friend in need, or when I’m collecting clothing donations to help the victims of a tornado. As a Christian, I am never not representing Christ. When one of my kids does the thing that I just finished telling them not to do, I’m still representing Christ. When somebody is riding my bumper in stop-and-go traffic, I’m still representing Christ. When I’m discussing politics with someone who clearly gets their news solely from Facebook, I’m still representing Christ.
Look, I’m a human being. I can’t be a good ambassador all of the time. I just don’t have the strength. But Christ does, and I work for him.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
— 2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV)