16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:16–21 (ESV)
Ambassadors for Christ is our theme for 2016. A dictionary defines an ambassador as: “an accredited diplomat sent by a country as its official representative to a foreign country:” Let us work backwards through the definition. To a foreign country means that the world we know, where we live and breath and work and play is not our home. This earth, the United States, Michigan and Royal Oak or wherever you reside is your foreign country. It has different values, attitudes, beliefs, and expectations. If you are completely comfortable with life in the United States then you have a reconciliation problem with Almighty God. In the United States trespasses against all God’s laws and precepts, rebellion against His presence and majesty, and outright denial of the Lord are the norm. Look around at this society, lying, cheating, stealing, murder, violence and hatred are the normal. If this is not a “foreign” country to you your connection to Jesus must be very weak.
“Sent by a country as its official representative” precedes in our definition. The country from which you have been sent is Heaven, or the Kingdom of Heaven, or the abode of God. It is the place from which Jesus descended when He was born in Bethlehem 2000 plus years ago. He came to earth from the presence of the Father as Ambassador to earth. He was also the Way the Truth and the Life as well as Savior but first he was the Ambassador. If Heaven is my country of origin then my worldview (values, attitudes, beliefs and expectations) ought to reflect and be entirely consistent with Heaven’s. So does your heart agree with God’s? Do your actions reflect what Jesus would do? Are your words perfectly pleasing to our Father? My rootedness is in God and before His throne and that governs everything about my life.
Next I am an official representative of the Kingdom of God. I have authority to act on behalf of my “country.” I am the highest example of the best of the sending country. I am completely committed to securing my country’s objectives in this foreign land. I am here not for my own benefit but to accomplish the will of Him who sent me.
“An accredited diplomat” means I am not just some wanderer or accidental tourist, rather I come with credentials, authority and purpose to represent the interests of my home country in this foreign land. In historical usage the ambassador was the personal representative of the Sovereign and therefore entitled to all the privileges and respect that would be afforded the Sovereign. We are accredited by Jesus Christ, because He has made us a new creation. In Him we become the righteousness of God, an accredited diplomat.
What then does an ambassador do? One secular source suggests an ambassador protects citizens, promotes prosperity, and works for peace. Let me translate that a little. “Protects citizens” would fit well with 1 John 3:17 (ESV) 17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Or John 15:12 (ESV) 12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
In either case our responsibility is to protect the church, Christ’s bride, or His brothers and sisters. “Promotes prosperity” falls within this promise Philippians 4:19 (ESV) “19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Or 2 Corinthians 9:10 (ESV) “10 He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.” Our task is to assist others to see and experience how great the Father’s love is for them. “Works for peace” fits nicely within 2 Corinthians 5:18–19 (ESV) “18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” Peace only comes when there is a foundational peace with God.
Will you answer Christ’s call to be His ambassador in 2016 and beyond?
Have a blessed and joyous New Year.