Christians are referred to in many different ways in the New Testament. Jesus emphasized to the apostles that they were not to be called by titles such as a rabbi, Master or teacher since he was their rabbi, master, and teacher. He said they were all brethren. So we are referred to often throughout the rest of Scripture as brothers and sisters, with God as our father and Jesus as our older brother. Christians are called saints on many occasions. In I Corinthians 1:2 the church is referred to as the church of God in Corinth and the people are “called to be saints.” It wasn’t a special word used by only a select crowd who were super holy. It was a word for every Christian because we are all set apart for God as his holy people. We are called priest of God by Peter in I Peter 2:5,9 who offer us spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God. We are called ambassadors for Christ.
I want to focus on that word “ambassadors”. An ambassador is one sent by an official body or person, to represent that group or nation in another country or place. It is very close to the word “apostle” and to the word “missionary” that we use today, even though it isn’t ever used in Scripture. So, how are we ambassadors for Christ? This word was used by Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:11-21. He started the discussion by declaring that “knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. He said it was “the love of Christ that controls us because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died, and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” He then said that from now on we are to regard no one according to the flesh. Even though he had once regarded Christ according to the flesh but not anymore. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” We have been those who lived by our own desires and passions, but God was willing to make us new, forgiven, with an entirely new mission for life.
He laid out that new mission like this: “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.” We are God’s ambassadors in the world. Just as the ambassador from this country to another goes with a mission and message from the President to the other country we go out into the world we live in to represent our king, Jesus Christ. We go with an official message to present. When we faithfully present to others the message of the Lord, God is actually making his appeal to the world through us. When the ambassador presents a message from the president to the leader of another country, it isn’t supposed by that leader that this is some personal message from the ambassador but is seen as what the president has said. As an ambassador, the people of that country will look at them as representing the people of the nation they come from. If their character is poor and their attitude is horrible the people will judge the country to be like that as well. In the same way, we as ambassadors for Christ can either make the king look good by our actions or we can live in a way that causes the people to see the king in a very poor light.
But what is our message to give to the world from our king? It is the message of reconciliation. We are to be moved by the fear of the Lord to persuade others. The love of Christ is to control us. We are to refuse to judge others by their flesh, their background, their race, color or creed. We must see deeper into the heart of others who are all made in the image and likeness of God. Then as ones who have been reconciled to God, we are to present the message of reconciliation.
Think of Paul writing in I Timothy 1. He praised God for making him a preacher of righteousness even though he was before a blasphemer, a persecutor of the church and injurious to the cause. He said of himself that “I am chief of sinners”. Yet God in his grace not only saved him from his sin and his past, he gave him a mission to carry the gospel to the gentile world. Before this, he as Saul of Tarsus had hated the gentiles and looked down on them as beneath him since he was a Jew, one of God’s chosen people. It is ironic that God would call a Jew, who was a Pharisee, who had hated and persecuted the church, to become the apostle to the Gentiles. Paul said it was out of his grace and he did so to show everyone that no matter what you have done or what your attitude may have been you can be forgiven by God and have an amazing mission for your life.
Like Paul, we may look back at our life and think we have messed up in so many ways that surely God can’t use us. Yet he majors in using those who have made a royal mess of their lives before turning it all over to him. He gives us the ministry of reconciliation to the world and our message is that of reconciling the world to him. God longs to be our Father, our friend, and our savior and Lord. Both by our life and by our words we are to carry this message to others.
We live in a time when the world seems fractured all around us. There is an overload of distrust and judging others based on superficial things in them, has become an art form. People are both looked down on and distrusted because of their race or color. When someone disagrees politically, they are often seen as the enemy, no matter what else may be true in their life. The world desperately needs the message of reconciliation where God is speaking through us to the world, telling them that Christ who knew no sin became sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. What an amazing shame it is when those who have this message and are appointed by God as his ambassadors to the world, remain quiet and keep the message hidden away somewhere safe.