Who I am in Christ: Ambassador (notes)
We have been looking at God’s answers to our question: Who am I? I have said it before and I will say it again, every child needs to know the answer to this question. If they do not get an answer from one’s parents, then they turn elsewhere to an individual or another community to get their identity.
Our identity and our understanding of our identity informs and influences every action we take. If someone is told they are a loser their whole life, over time they begin to live like a loser.
That is why in times of upheaval and instability, like now, we need to be reminded of our identity and the calling God has given us. That is the reason why back in March and April I went through a series called Getting Down to Business. We could summarize our God-given calling very simply: Matthew 6:33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things shall be added.
If we do not know our identity, if we forget who we are, then we will lose sight of our calling.
In the movie the Lion King, Simba, the main character of the story, loses sight of who he is, the King’s son, and as a result forgets his calling. It is only when he is reminded of who he is, that he takes action to retake the kingdom that is rightfully his.
The Christian story says this: God made humanity in his image. We were meant to be God’s ambassadors on this earth. He gave us the authority to care for the earth, every human being and every creature and cultivate those relationships according to God’s ways so that humans and all of creation would flourish. But humanity rebelled as a result we fell, and we see the effects of that event all around us. We disobeyed and followed someone else, which means we gave God’s authority to us to someone else.
We became citizens of a different kingdom, a kingdom of death, decay and destruction, a kingdom of slavery to fear and guilt.
But God would not have that. He orchestrated a coup. Out of love He chose the Israelite nation out of all the peoples of the earth and rescued them out of that slavery and freed them. He gave them a new way of life in His kingdom. He made them His children. But He did not forget the rest of His beloved image bearers and creation. In making the Israelites citizens of His kingdom, he also called them to be His ambassadors so that everyone around them would know what it was like to live in God’s kingdom. The sad part is, over time Israelites began to go back to the kingdom that He rescued them from.
But God would not have that either. He sent them His very own Son, Jesus of Nazareth, who completed the coup. He outsmarted the ruler of the other kingdom, Satan. God’s coup was so brilliant that Satan even helped God accomplish it.
Jesus went deeper into rescuing humanity and all of creation: he redeemed their hearts once and for all. Jesus fully restored mankind as God’s image bearers, his ambassadors on the earth through His work on the cross.
Now with that as the backdrop, let’s take a closer look at being an ambassador.
2 Corinthians 5:16-20
What is an ambassador?
1. A citizen that goes into another country and represents the leader of their homeland.
2. An ambassador is given authority to speak and make decisions on behalf of the one who appointed him or her to bring about what their leader wants.
Even though “ambassador” is only used twice in the New Testament, it connects with the idea of image-bearer that is woven throughout the Bible.
The purpose of being made in God’s image was not just for relationship but also purpose. Just as God rules over all of Creation, so mankind is supposed to rule over the earth as God would.
What is an ambassador in Christ?
1. A citizen of heaven that goes into another kingdom and represents Christ.
2. A citizen of heaven who walks in God’s authority to speak and make decisions on behalf of Christ to bring about what Jesus wants.
How did God make his appeal? We see that in Jesus.
Story to Illustrate being an ambassador
One day Joe Schmoe received a phone out of the blue from the President. “Joe, you have been recommended by my advisors as someone who could be an ambassador to Great Britain. Will you accept?”
“Yes, Mr. President. I would be honored.” Joe goes through the rigorous vetting process and is confirmed. He packs his bags and moves to Washington DC. He shows up to the first cabinet meeting after being confirmed.
“Joe?” the President asks, what are you doing here?"
"Mr. President, let me just say that I am honored to be your ambassador to Great Britain. What is on the agenda for today's meeting?"
Where is Joe supposed to be as an ambassador?
Joe, being very embarrassed, packs up his things again and moves to Great Britain. After a month, the President calls him to see how things are going. “Well, my apartment is great. Right in downtown London. I can see so many things from my balcony. I have kept up with the dusting and the cleaning. I must confess that I have binged watched Downton Abbey several times. But I am having a great time, Mr. President.”
What is Joe supposed to be doing in Great Britain?
Embarrassed again, “I am so sorry Mr. President. You are right. I will begin right away meeting with the Prime Minister and other officials here.”
"Thank you, Joe. There is grace and you have my full support. I know you will represent me well and the interests of our country in Great Britain."
The next day, Joe meets with government officials. In the midst of discussions, there are many questions as to what the US wants and will decide. Joe takes all of these questions and calls the President.
"Mr. President, I have several questions that they asked me. Is Great Britain still our ally? Do you support this? Do you support that? Do you think I should meet with this person?" And so on. Joe had many questions for the President and was waiting on the President to make every decision for him.
What is Joe not doing?
"Joe, I have given you my authority to represent me and your country. Certainly, there are some things you should run by me, but I have told you my directives and foreign policy and I have given you my authority to speak on my behalf. It is time you did so."
How do we walk in authority?