July 2016

Ambassadors for Christ is our theme for 2016. See 2 Corinthians 5:20 (ESV)
“20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
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.
Here has been our journey, January introduction to theme, February “a foreign country” March “its official representative.” April “sent by a country” May “an accredited diplomat” and June “the possibility that God has sent you on an errand?”
This month I want to return to an “official representative.” In March we explored the necessary requirement of obedience if we are to be an official representative. Here is my follow up question: obedience to what? What do we represent of God’s Kingdom to this foreign land? The first answer would be we represent God and that is true. The second answer could be we represent His Kingdom and that also would be true. But I would now ask, how do we represent God and His Kingdom to this foreign land?
A very common answer in the Christian community would suggest by demonstrating holiness and righteousness. What does this mean in practical terms? It means living in conformity to God’s Law in every aspect of my life. The Christian community is very good at telling others how to live their lives. This is what Jesus says about our representation, John 13:34–35 (ESV) “34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Love is the official mark of God’s Kingdom. It is the first designated fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22. It is the greatest commandment, Deut 6:5 and Mark 12:29-32. Finally 1 John 4:8 (ESV) 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” We cannot represent God or His Kingdom (official representative) without demonstrating love. The challenge we face is that Satan has deceived us into a false understanding of love. Love is not primarily a feeling, although feelings do attach to and flow from love. Love in God’s Kingdom is a decision to act and to give one’s self for His glory. Love is choosing to do for someone else that which is in their best interest, in spite of the personal cost. Here is the Jesus example, Ephesians 5:25–27 (ESV) “25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” Love is self-giving, for the other’s highest good, that they might glorify God in their life.
Jesus said to His disciples very clearly, in John 13:35 (ESV) “35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Our love must be authentic, visible, and expansive. Loving God is the first step. Loving God is easier because we realize how much He loved us. Responsive love flows with less effort. He also called us to love others. Loving those we like, are close to, agree with and share common values is relatively easy. I know every family can have difficulties, however, loving your brothers and sisters comes with a degree of naturalness that makes it easier. Family applies not only to our blood family but to the Blood family, the Church. Loving others then moves to the challenging area, loving those we don’t like, agree with or approve of.
Consider the people Jesus specifically loved, the tax collector, the prostitute, the leper, the man with the unclean spirits, the adulteress, and the Samaritan woman. Honestly that’s a challenging group of outcast, failures and unpopular people. He chose to lavish His love on them in spite of their failures. He loved them even when they could offer noting in return. He loved them because He possessed the heart of God.
Are you committed to being an ambassador of love? Are you wiling to do good to those who despise you, humiliate you and hurt you? Can you love expecting nothing in return? You will have to to be an official representative of the Kingdom of Heaven.
“ Lord make my ego small, my heart tender, and my hands open to love others as you first loved me.”