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Being Christ's Ambassador is a Dangerous Job

Raise your hand if you've heard of Hugo Llorens. Anybody? Hugo Llorens currently holds one of the most difficult jobs on the planet: He's the United States Ambassador to Afghanistan. 

Ambassador Llorens represents the interests of the United States in one of the most hostile areas in the world. Each day he faces opposition to his cause and danger to his own life. 

When the Apostle Paul calls us to become "ambassadors for Christ" in 2 Corinthians 5, he calls us to a position not unlike that occupied by Ambassador Llorens. The chief role of an ambassador is to represent the interests of a country in a foreign, sometimes hostile, land. The problem we American Christians face today is we've become accustomed to thinking of ourselves as natives of the land we live in. As we're becoming increasingly aware, the truth of the matter confirms the words of the old hymn: "This world is not my home."

 

Even though my address might read "Noblesville, Indiana, USA," my true home resides somewhere else...and so does the One I serve. While I'm "in country" I certainly want to observe the laws and customs of the land and pay due respect to its leadership (after all, if I'm openly hostile to my foreign hosts, I won't be an ambassador for very long!) As an ambassador, I can never forget why I'm here: to represent the interests of my home country.

So what are Christ's interests in this foreign country, sometimes hostile to his cause? He's not really into "nation-building." We know it's not in his plan to make the US into any permanent outpost. No, he's looking for defectors.

Jesus wants us to search for and entice those who are dissatisfied with the life offered by this place. We do that, not by pointing out all the bad that's native. The citizens here already know about that. Instead, by highlighting and living out the principles of Christ's Kingdom, we show them a better way. Then we offer them assistance in making that difficult transition of leaving the place they were born to become citizens of the "new country."

The other job of the ambassador is to promote peace. Yes, we want to get the citizens of this land to emigrate to our country, but while that's happening it's important that we live in peace with the foreign nation. With that in mind, it's important for us to resist the temptation to become belligerent with the natives.

Yes, they view us as foreigners and some even feel threatened by our presence. So they call us names and attack us in a variety of ways. They want us out. But if we're going to have the ambassador's influence, we can't return their anger. To do so would be to threaten the security of the mission on which we've been sent. Remember, we represent the interests of the King, not ourselves.

So, how are we doing as Christ's ambassadors to America? I fear we're not as effective as we could be. On the one hand, we often "over-assimilate," becoming "natives" ourselves and forgetting the differentiating qualities of being a citizen of Heaven. When we do that, those we're trying to affect can't see the difference.

On the other hand, we give in far too often to a belligerent stance with the natives. We've taken the "Christian soldier" mentality to become more like Patton than Paul's original meaning when he wrote to Timothy. In 2 Timothy 2:3-4, the scripture "Onward Christian Soldiers" is based on, Paul exhorts young Timothy to "Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.  No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer."

If we're going to please our commanding officer, as good ambassadors, we have to get away from the notion that we're fighting the "enemy" on His behalf. First of all, God has only one true "enemy," which we know He has already vanquished through the blood of Christ. Second, Jesus clearly shows us he doesn't view the "natives" here as enemies. They are instead beleaguered indigenous people in need of our help. 

No, our "soldiering" is consistent with our "ambassadorship." It's a tough job, living as a foreigner under constant threat. It requires great patience, great care for those we're trying to reach, and great focus on our part to stay true to the mission.

 

Posted by Chuck Chapman with

Impact in the Everyday

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We have some amazing pastors, heads of ministry, and feet-on-the-ground workers around us (and around the world) who have dedicated their entire lives to fulfilling God’s mission here on this side of eternity. Their passion to bring people to Christ drove them to their vocations, and their commitment to that is the basis for what they do every day. Together, the impact of these people of God’s church are making a huge difference in this world and in people’s lives.

What about the rest of us “regular” Christians?

What’s our role here? What is God looking for from you and me? 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 tells us that God has given us the job of reconciling others to him. “So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us.” Not just those whose “job” it is to share the love of Christ with others – all of us.

Christ’s ambassadors. His representatives.

I’ll be perfectly honest here – that intimidates me. It invokes feelings of inadequacy and ineptitude. How could I possibly live up to a task this monumental? From that perspective, it all makes me want to shrink and let other stronger, more suitable Christians take the lead. I’ll just be over here trying to stay out of their way.

But that is not at all what God asks of us, and it comes back to perspective on our parts. As Christians, we have been given a job to do. When we shift our thought process slightly from the overwhelming big picture to the everyday, we are able to more easily embrace the ideas that:

  • What we do and say matters.
  • We can (and will!) have an eternal impact.
  • What we’re doing right here in our own lives is absolutely intertwined with God’s mission.
Sometimes we see the fruits of our labors and sometimes we do not.

Sometimes our impact is obvious, other times we are left wondering if anything we do or say is making a difference in God's kingdom.

I happened to grow up witnessing one of the greatest examples of steadfast commitment in the “everyday” and intentional living with no obvious result, though I didn't know it at the time. Beginning years before I existed, the result was 50 years in the making.

My dad had a bad experience in his home church as a teenager in the 1950s. As a result, he turned his back on religion, Christianity, God, and anything to do with any of it. He was very private about it and did not speak against anyone else’s faith or beliefs. He was an incredibly stubborn man, and changing his mind would take – well – an act of God.

Our grandma (his mother) was a deeply faithful woman, and my mom was led to Christ through her; and my siblings and I grew up in a Christian home led (in faith) by my mother and grandmother. Dad never went to church and we did not question it. He just didn’t go and we did. When my brother decided to attend a Christian college and became a minister, Dad was incredibly proud of him. He never spoke against any of our beliefs, but he also never wanted to talk about it. He had been severely scarred years and years before by people who claimed their faith in Christ, and the damage seemed irreparable.

Despite the fact that the man she loved most in this world was not her partner in faith, Mom never wavered in living her Christian life out loud. She was faithful, and you knew it. But she did not try to persuade Dad to repent or change his mind or even go to church with her. She prayed. She did not make under-the-breath remarks or insinuate her beliefs were better or that he was wrong. She prayed and let her daily actions and life speak for her. Christ was making his appeal through Mom's actions and the way she handled herself and my dad's "non" faith. She prayed for God to change his heart. Her behavior toward him was that of a loving, faithful, happy wife. She lived as a Christian and let her everyday life be her evangelism to him. They had a beautiful relationship, and the love between them was deep and taught all of us kids how to love without conditions, and respect one another despite differences. And how to remain faithful.

After fifty years, he casually began attending church with her, and others there lived out their faith with him, as well. They all helped heal his wounded heart by living out God’s love to him. In 2013 at the age of 71, Dad accepted Christ and was baptized by his own son. Impact from seemingly unremarkable but intentional living in the everyday had an eternal impact on my dad.

Six months later he was diagnosed with multiple brain tumors, and moved to heaven just 126 days after that. In less than a year as a Christian, he lived a lifetime of joy and contentment and reconciliation with God – and my mother saw the beautiful impact of her nearly lifelong faith and daily commitment to living out God’s mission in her own home. In those 126 days between diagnosis and moving to heaven, Dad lived without any fear of death or anger at his circumstances and fate – giving God all the glory. He led the rest of us (who had been Christians most of our lives), in living out our faith during that horrible time and praising God in the dark, dark storm. 

My dad’s coming to Christ, followed by the worst time in our family’s life, taught me the most about how everyday living with commitment to God’s mission can change a life – even if you think that it doesn’t matter or that you aren't doing enough. After Dad’s death, we were told by many people in one way or another how the way he lived his faith in that short time showed them more about Christ than much of what they’d experienced to that point.

We often don’t know which of our words, actions, or living through life circumstances are influencing someone else; and we don’t all have to be pastors or missionaries or Sunday school teachers to live out God’s mission and have an impact on those around us.

What would it look like if all of God's people lived believing that their everyday actions can make an eternal difference?

In Matthew 22:37-39 Jesus states, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself.” This is a pretty good place to start.

God's mission is not too big, and we are not too small.

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