In 2 Corinthians 5:20 Paul calls us to be Ambassadors of Christ. But what does that actually mean?
An ambassador for a country lives in a foreign country, showing everyone who lives there how amazing his home country is.
“So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us.” 2 Corinthians 5:20
We are who people look to to see what Christianity is like. Our eternal home is in heaven, and our job as ambassadors of Christ is to show people how amazing it’ll be through our life.
So why are we ambassadors? Basically, because Jesus has instructed us to do so, in the Great Commission. In Mark 16:15 Jesus tells us “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.”
We can’t keep the good news to ourselves – it should be contagious. In Matthew 10:27 Jesus tells us “What I tell you now in the darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops for all to hear!”
But before we can be ambassadors, we need to know the person we are representing. Because if you took a job as an ambassador of a country you knew nothing about and had never been to, you wouldn’t be able to do a very good job of representing it. Likewise for us to do a good job of representing Christ to an unbelieving world we need to first spend time getting to know Him. Which means spending time with Him on a regular basis. Reading His word. Spending time in prayer. Growing closer to Him.
Being an ambassador of Christ does not mean we need to stand on street corners with big “Turn or burn” banners. It simply means being like Christ1. Having a servant heart.
Being kind and compassionate.
Challenging what is wrong.
Speaking out for truth.
Refusing to conform to society’s standards.
Having self control.
Doing things only to please God, not man.
Being spontaneous and creative.
Thinking of others rather than yourself.
Living out life in all its fullness.
Being an ambassador of Christ means having integrity in our words and actions. Integrity means that what you say, what you profess to believe and what you actually do match up. For us to be effective ambassadors of Christ we can’t go around claiming to love God and then not show that we love Him by our actions. If people see that we are all talk and no action they will get the impression that we are insincere in our beliefs seen as we are not acting on them.
Being an ambassador of Christ means loving people without any agenda. We don’t love people so that they will become Christians. We show love to them because they are God’s creation, and sometimes as a result of that they will eventually come to accept Christ, but often it doesn’t work out that way. And we shouldn’t give up on loving them if after a few months it has had no visible spiritual impact. And loving people does not mean doing good deeds begrudgingly for them because we feel as Christians that is what we should be doing. Because then we are acting out of duty, not love. And sometimes it can be hard, but we need to remember the example of Jesus. Many of the people He showed love to turned their back on him (such as the time he healed 10 lepers, but only one came back to thank him). But we are working for a heavenly reward, not an earthly one.
Being an ambassador of Christ means making people wish that they weren’t “on the outside looking in”. It means making them want to be a part of the Christian community we are a part of. In Romans 11:14 Paul says “I want somehow to make the people of Israel [the non-believing Jews] jealous of what you Gentiles [the early Christians] have”. If people see contentment, joy and genuine passion when they look to us they are going to be curious. But if all they see is people with the same doom and gloom as the godless world around them they won’t be interested. John Wesley went as far as to say “Sour godliness is the Devil’s religion.”
Being an ambassador of Christ means being openly honest about your faith, not hiding it when you know you’ll get stick for it. In Matthew 5:15 Jesus says “No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.” Because of course sharing your faith isn’t just about your words, it’s about actions to. As the old saying goes “Preach the gospel always, and when necessary, use words.” And the question is, if someone was watching your life 24/7 Big Brother style, how long would it take for them to realize you were a Christian? Would it be evident through the way you live your life, or would it take them until you went to Church on Sunday to make the connection?
Being an ambassador of Christ means being his hands and feet to a world that desperately needs God.
1 Corinthians 12:27 says that “All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.”
The band Casting Crowns have a class song, If we are the Body, with a really challenging chorus for those of us who profess to be trying to be ambassadors of Christ.
“If we are the body,
Why aren’t His arms reaching, why aren’t His hands healing,
Why aren’t His words teaching, why aren’t His feet going,
Why is His love not showing them there is a way?”
If we are serious about being ambassadors of Christ we need to reach out to the world through being Christ’s hands and feet.
Being an ambassador is what we have been called to do. It is not an optional extra to the Christian life. So get busy ambassadorizing!
1 -list inspired by Epilogue of Epidemic of Life by Chris Thackery.