Do you see yourself as an ambassador for Christ?
2 Corinthians 5:18-20 (ESV Strong's)
All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 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. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
Last week we looked in the mirror and saw ourselves as royalty, and made a commitment to act like royalty. Today, I want to continue our series of what you see when you look in the mirror, only this time I am not focussing on who you are, but what your mission is on earth. You are not only royalty, you are an ambassador…
So what is an ambassador? Dictionary defines it as “an accredited diplomat sent by a state as its permanent representative in a foreign country.”
WHAT DOES AN AMBASSADOR LOOK LIKE?
2 Corinthians 5:20 (ESV Strong's)
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
Notice the tone here, we are God’s representatives, and so we don’t just mention Him, we don’t only bring Him up in polite conversation or suggest people might like to check out God, we implore others to be reconciled to God.
The Greek word for implore is deomai, which means to beg, petition, beseech and pray for. It is derives from the root verb deo, which literally means to bind, tie or fasten with chains. So when Paul says we implore you, it means we bind ourselves to you or commit ourselves to you until you are reconciled to Christ.
What this tells me is that, as ambassadors, we must not be halfhearted, we must never be semi committed , but rather we need to be fully and completely invested in bringing people to Jesus. In fact, we need to be desperate to see people come to Christ!
Spurgeon once said, “Have you no wish for others to be saved, then you are not saved yourself, be sure of that...”
Ok, we are children of the King of Kings, but are we really serious about bringing others to Jesus? I am not talking about throwing your brain away and Bible bashing people into submission. Ambassadors represent the King, but they don’t bash anyone! Like royalty, their behaviour needs to be above reproach. As that passage says, God is making His appeal to human hearts through us.
In fact, we are often the only Bible people will read!
So here are some characteristics of ambassadors, which is part of our calling as royal children…
1. AN AMBASSADOR LIVES IN A FOREIGN LAND
This world is not our home, we are just passing through. This world in which we live is beautiful, but it is not our home. We are aliens and strangers in this world, we are only visiting this planet, because our home is with the Lord in Heaven. We live in a dying world that needs a living Saviour!
C.S. Lewis said, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”
This is not our home, but to get the mission done for the King, we have to live in this foreign, often hostile land that we call earth. And this earth is dying. According to the Gospel Coalition, 151,600 people die every day, that’s 105 deaths every minute, and most of them face a Christ-less eternity. In fact, most of them have never really heard the gospel!
Yet Jesus commands us,
Matthew 28:19 (ESV Strong's)
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
Frankly, as Christians we do not really take this charge seriously. Most Christians are content to sit in their churches arguing doctrine and squabble over the colour of the carpet instead of reaching out to this sick, dying, needy world! Jesus commanded us the make disciples of all nations, but we are too afraid to tell our friends that we even believe in God!
2 Corinthians 5 clearly challenges us to reach out to others, and I believe that, if we see ourselves as royalty and representatives of the King of Kings, it is our solemn duty and awesome privilege to share our faith. This generation of believers is responsible for this generation of souls all over the earth.
That’s you and me folks! It’s not the pastor’s job, it’s not Bill Newman’s job or missionaries or evangelists. This is the solemn duty of every believer. We may not all be preachers, but we can all be reachers!
And remember, while might live in a foreign, hostile and dying land, we represent a great King and are part of the greatest family ever..
Ephesians 2:19 (ESV Strong's)
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,
2. AN AMBASSADOR SPEAKS FOR THEIR OWN COUNTRY
Ambassadors are constantly watched by others because they speak not for themselves but for their country. Sometimes the ambassador is persecuted because he speaks out the will of the home leader. The Bible says of us…
Philippians 3:20 (ESV Strong's)
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,
But ambassadors are not concerned about making popular statements, but in speaking for the King.
When US President Donald Trump announced the transfer of the embassy to Jerusalem, Reuters reported, “for security reasons U.S. Ambassador David Friedman will continue living in the residence in Herzliya, north of Tel Aviv, and commute to the relocated embassy.” His life is under threat because he speaks for his government.
So should we. If you make a comment on Facebook pro God, they attack you. If you go to the media standing for what is right, they try to destroy you. Christians and even Christian leaders are running scared in our so called Christian nation. Media and social media now attack Christians far more than gays, transgenders, Muslims, sex workers or any other alleged suppressed minority.
We’re now the target, folks, not them. Get use to it, because it ain’t about to change.
But still we must speak the mind of the King. We must also love with the heart of the King. Our King once said this…
John 15:19 (ESV Strong's)
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.
I believe that now more than ever before we have the privilege of standing up for Jesus, speaking out for Him in a hostile and antagonistic world. I’m not scared going forward, I’m inspired to make a stand for what is right. I’m inspired to speak the mind of my King, come what may, and I will not stop no matter what they throw at me!
3. AN AMBASSADOR IS SEEN TO REPRESENT THEIR COUNTRY
A country is judged by its people. When I go to India next month, I represent my country. The Indians I meet will judge Australia by me, and if they like me they like Australia, but if they don’t like me, they hate Australia. You do the same. If you have a friend from a country, invariably you have a high opinion of that country. I love Carlos, which means I even like Peru despite them beating us in the World Cup.
Jesus says He chose us to represent Him and bear fruit that lasts, fruit that also represents the King.
John 15:16 (ESV Strong's)
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.
People are looking at us, and for many, we are the only representations they see of God. When I hear of a Christian leader falling in sin, I’m not only sad for those involved, I’m disgusted because it misrepresents the God that I serve! We need to not bring God into disrepute ! We need to watch what we say and do, because we are representing the King we serve as His ambassadors, and they judge Him by us!
Now I know I’m not perfect, and I know it is not fashionable to preach holiness these days, but we need to be holy and behave in a godly way, because people are watching. We need to accurately and honourably represent our King, as His children and ambassadors!
People say to me, “Pastor, I can’t help behaving badly, it’s just who I am… I’m just being myself.” You can be yourself, just be your best self! “But I can’t control my temper, my tongue, my lust, my gossip, insert your favourite sin here!” Listen, if you are screaming and yelling at your spouse, and the pastor knocks on your door, you’d be surprised at how quickly you can control yourself!
Matthew 5:14-16 (ESV Strong's)
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Unbelievers, especially those closest to you, are watching, the question is, are you shining? Someone once said, “I came to Christ not because of the cleverness of your speech, but because of the godliness of your life.”
1 Peter 2:12 (ESV Strong's)
Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
4. AN AMBASSADOR MUST LEARN THE LANGUAGE AND CUSTOMS
If we are to communicate the King’s message to this world, we have to do so in a language they understand. This doesn’t mean we become citizens of that country, nor does it mean we behave according to their customs and standards, but we have to be able to communicate.
President Kennedy made a famous speech in front of the Berlin Wall in 1961 where he said, “Ich bin ein Berliner,” which actually translates “I am a cream Bun.”
Even the great Billy Graham once told a job at a huge rally in India. The translator took a long time to translate it, but people eventually politely chuckled. Billy asked him afterwards what had happened, and the man told Billy that he translated in this way… “Dr Graham has told a joke that in his culture is funny, but in our culture is not. But out or respect to Dr Graham, would you please now laugh!”
Communication is important. Jesus prays for believers in His high-priestly prayer…
John 17:15-18 (ESV Strong's)
I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.
We are to be in the world, but not of it. We are to relate to it without partaking of it. Some of us get this wrong, and we become of it, and this is not holiness and it destroys the validity of our testimony for the King. You don’t have to take drugs to reach a drug addict. You don’t have to get drunk to be one of the boys to win them to Christ. You don’t have to be corrupt to reach politicians, or a tax cheat to reach businessmen.
What you and I have to be is holy. We need to live a life free of sin, because nothing will make people sit up and take notice like a godly life. The very people who have attacked and insulted me for being a Christian have often ultimately turned to me when they have a need.
So as ambassadors we are called to live in this needy world, living godly lives that unbelievers can understand and relate to, without lowering our standards. We shouldn’t hide ourselves in monasteries or churches. We need to be in the community, talking to people, loving people on behalf of the King, but not stooping to their level and participating in their sin. In the world, but not of the world.
Whatever the culture, every person on earth understands genuine love and care, honour and respect. I was once approached by a gay friend who demanded, “Do you agree with my lifestyle?” I said I did not, and will never agree with his lifestyle, but then I told him he probably doesn’t agree with mine either. So if we can agree to disagree, can’t we just be mates and love and honour each other as people. He said that was the best answer he had ever heard. I cannot win him to Christ if I treat him like a lepper! If I love him, he respects that I love him and I can still reach him.
Sometimes, “What you do speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you say.”
5. AN AMBASSADOR DOES NOT GET INVOLVED IN TRIVIAL LOCAL ISSUES
Ambassadors are about representing their leader, their King. Their concern is at a national level, and you should not find them arguing or getting involved in local matters.
1 Peter 2:11 (ESV Strong's)
Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.
There are some things we must abstain from. Listen there are some arguments on Facebook you need to not become embroiled in! I’m always uncomfortable when I see Christians aggressively arguing trivial points, because you can win the argument and lose the war. Apologetics is good and necessary at times, but no one gets argued into the Kingdom. It always is going to take faith!
Titus 3:9 (ESV Strong's)
But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.
Usually people who want to argue with you about social issues or opinions are not ready to accept Jesus as Lord. So avoid foolish arguments and concentrate on loving people. Sure, some things you need to make a stand on, but you can even do that in a non argumentative way. Jesus said that unbelievers will know us by how we love one another, not by how vigorously we argue about evrything!
6. AN AMBASSADOR KNOWS THE MIND OF THE KING
1 Corinthians 2:16 (ESV Strong's)
“For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
When we are ambassadors, we know the mind and will of our King and we serve the King, not the local population and not our own interests.
Matthew 6:24 (ESV Strong's)
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
So many Christians are so wrapped up in money and lifestyle they forget God. You can work, use money and enjoy the blessing, but it ought to serve you, not the other way around. Serve Jesus number one, and let Him sort out money and lifestyle.
7. AN AMBASSADOR IS IN CONSTANT COMMUNICATION WITH THE KING
Jeremiah 9:23-24 (ESV Strong's)
Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”
How do you get to know the King? Talk to Him. Learn about His ways. You read His communications, you study His Word and you connect with others who know and live the King. An ambassador needs to stay connected. He does not operate in isolation, he does not make his own decisions, he is in constant contact with his government so that any decisions he makes reflects his government’s wishes.
John 10:27 (ESV Strong's)
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
You can not accurately hear the voice of the King unless you know Him, and you cannot know Him without reading His Word. It is that simple…
Hebrews 4:12 (ESV Strong's)
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Reading the Word of God daily is essential, hence the Bible reading plan. Coming to church is also essential, because worshipping together, growing together and learning together is part of your ambassador training. People tell me you can still be a Christian and not go to church, and that is true. You can be married and not live together, but that’s not the norm, right?
Finding the right Church will enhance every aspect of your Christian walk! So even if you find us imperfect, and I’m sure you will, don’t stop coming to Ignite, because our desire is to Ignite your Christian life!
Communicating with the King is more than just reading the Bible and attending church, it is all about learning to listen to His voice. Next month Fiona is starting a special course on hearing the voice of God, and you can reliably and consistently hear the still small voice of God if you learn how and if your heart is open.
Isaiah 30:21 (ESV Strong's)
And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.
8. AN AMBASSADOR IS READY TO BE RECALLED AT A MOMENT’S NOTICE
The final and exciting point about seeing yourself as an ambassador is that you have to be ready to be recalled at a moment’s notice.
When war is declared between countries Diplomats are generally recalled, and they are are frequently recalled as a protest, as we have seen recently in the diplomatic row involving alleged Russian spying. Last year, all Australian ambassadors were recalled by Julia Bishop to reformulate Australia’s overall foreign policy.
Ambassadors need to be ready for a recall, any time, anywhere! So should we be!
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (ESV Strong's)
For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.
Jesus is coming again, just as He has promised, and He has never broken a promise! When Israel was formed as a nation after thousands of years of exile in 1948, the world was put on notice that Jesus’ return is not far away.
Any time now Jesus will be returning to earth, and the Bible says we will be caught up to meet Him in the air. Right now we are ambassadors for the King, but the King is coming again! I can’t tell you when, but I can tell you who! Jesus, the King of Kings will come back and claim His ambassadors, His royal children as His own . So if the King is coming, we need to get ready for the King, and start shining for Him!
BE AN AMBASSADOR AND SHINE!
Last week we were anointed as children of the King, and this week I am asking you to look in the mirror to see yourself as an ambassador.
If we truly see ourselves as that, this will govern our behaviour towards the world in which we live.
Matthew 5:16 (ESV Strong's)
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
We often consider witnessing to be a formalised process, maybe door knocking or handing out tracts. But being a witness for the King is about being His ambassador. It is about shining for Him!
People generally don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Being an ambassador doesn’t mean you Bible bash people, it means you represent the King, you shine His light to everyone you meet.
Like I said before, people are watching you so don’t just say, pray! Don’t just whine, shine! Don’t just speak, seek! Being an ambassador is something we are all called be, so rather than trying to argue with people or force them to listen to your gospel presentation, just live a life that shines for the King!
1 Peter 3:15 (ESV Strong's)
but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,
Sometimes our witnessing is not gentle, neither is it respectful. Sometimes we force ourselves and our ideas on those not willing to listen. However, if you live an exemplary life before the, if you live a life of love and acceptance, then they are far more willing to listen when the time comes.
So to finish, I want to challenge you to shine your faith to everyone you meet. Look for opportunities to share the gospel, but let those openings be based on the testimony of a godly life shining before them.
Today, I want to ask you to write down 3 people you think you can be the Lord’s ambassador to. Three people that you can shine your light before, then be ready to give the reason for your life being such a light in this dark world. They could be friends, family, loved one, neighbours, business associates, workmates, doesn’t matter.
And then we are going to pray that these people see the life you live, and praise your father in heaven. I’m going to be so bold as to ask the Lord for the opportunity to share your faith honestly and openly with at least one of these people over the next month!
Just ask God for one opportunity to shine the goodness of God into their lives, and then be bold enough to tell them why you are shining for Jesus. Ask God for the opportunity, then trust Him for the results. Whether they accept Christ is His problem, not yours, your responsibility is to shine, and to be ready to give a reason for the hope within you.