The church is in the reconciliation business, so you and I must be in that business, too. God “reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18). Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9), but in today’s atmosphere charged with political hostility and ideological division, peace is desperately needed and decidedly counter-cultural.
The apostle Paul declared, “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 5:20). Imprisoned for preaching the gospel, Paul called himself “an ambassador in chains” (Ephesians 6:20). Our English word ambassador comes from a Latin root that means “servant.” The Greek word translated “ambassador” in the New Testament comes from the verb presbeuo, to be elderly or mature. It describes someone with sufficient experience and character to serve as a trustworthy, respected representative.
Diplomats represent their countries at the United Nations, but what does it mean for us to be ambassadors of Christ, serving as emissaries on behalf of his kingdom? A job description posted in the careers section of a university website summarizes an ambassador’s role by saying, “Ambassadors usually live in a country different from their home and work as a delegate for and representative of their home country . . . . they are responsible for understanding the culture in which they live as an ambassador, but they must always work to keep the best interests of their home country in mind.”
Representing the Lord
Here are some principles ministers of reconciliation should keep in mind.
Ambassadors communicate what they are told. They are under orders to pass along whatever messages the rulers of their home country want to communicate. Likewise, as ambassadors of God’s kingdom, we aren’t the final authority; Jesus is. He possesses “all authority in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18). His weighty words, not our lightweight personal opinions, define our message to the world. Our job isn’t to impress others with our own clever rhetoric and personal charisma, but to proclaim “the whole will of God” (Acts 20:27).
Ambassadors represent their nation’s values. If the American ambassador misbehaves in another country, it reflects poorly on America. Likewise, our behavior should demonstrate in a positive way that “our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20). It’s important to connect with our culture, but in the pursuit of relevance, we shouldn’t compromise kingdom values grounded in Scripture. God’s call to holy living applies in postmodern times just as it applied in the first century. Peter declared, “Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul” (1 Peter 2:11).
Ambassadors go wherever they are sent. Jesus said, “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matthew 9:38). If we dare to pray that prayer, we must trust the Lord to match his harvest workers with harvest fields that fit them well. Christ sends his ambassadors across the world, across the street, and sometimes simply across the room.
Are you willing to engage in the ministry of reconciliation as an ambassador of Christ? Will you go and serve in the field he assigns to you? Will you say, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8)?
David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Lesson study ©2018, Christian Standard Media. Lesson based on The Lookout’s Scope and Sequence ©2018. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version, ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.