Most of my exegetical attention this week will be pointed toward the well-worn story of the Prodigal Son, but this morning I couldn’t help but be drawn toward an old standard of evangelical theology, 2 Corinthians 5:16-21. In the Young Life, Inter-Varsity model of ministry, one of the first “memorization verses” is “If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” It is a great verse, one worth knowing inside and out, but this morning my attention is focused on the piece that comes just after that.
“We are ambassadors for Christ…”
I’m wondering how effective we are in this common call? I wonder if Christians, as a whole, could be regarded is good ambassadors, skilled in diplomacy? Are we instead more like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran, who stands before the UN once a year and spouts hate, lies, and rhetoric all for his own advantage? I’m wishing for the former, but I fear that the truth is the latter.
So, then, what does it mean to be an Ambassador for Christ? The Great-Font-of-all-Knowledge, Wikipedia, says that ambassadors have three main roles:
- To Protect Citizens
- To Support Prosperity
- Work for Peace
I would argue that, for the most part, Christians are pretty good at fulfilling Ambassador Roles 1 and 2, but we fail pretty miserably at #3. It seems as though Roles 1 and 2 are often at odds with working for peace, and so, when push comes to shove, we choose to protect our own: people, buildings, and wealth; rather than working for peace with those who are at odds with us. The message we have to offer, however, isn’t one of “might makes right,” but instead, as Paul writes, our message is a call to reconciliation with God. Our message is, for lack of a better word, peace. Shalom. As Ambassadors for Christ, our job is to turn the three roles on their head.
- Work for Peace
- To Support Prosperity for all People
- To Protect God’s Creation
Kingdom living is not of this world, and often it turns priorities upside-down. As Ambassadors for Christ, be reconciled to God and preach reconciliation. That seems to be what its all about.