In 2 Corinthians 5:20 the Apostle Paul calls us to be ambassadors for Jesus Christ, but what does that really mean? Webster’s dictionary defines the word ambassador as “a country’s representative in a foreign land”. Just as an ambassador of a foreign nation lives in the country for which he has been assigned, and demonstrates to the people who live there how amazing his homeland is through his words and deeds, as Christians our eternal home is in Heaven, and our responsibility as ambassadors for Christ is to show people how amazing our eternal home will be through the life that we live and the example that we set before them.
As ambassadors for Jesus Christ we have an important responsibility to take His message of reconciliation to the world. Because we have been reconciled to God, He now gives us the opportunity to encourage others to do the same. “Now therefore [we] are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19). Because we have put our total trust in Him, we are no longer strangers, foreigners, or enemies.
So, why are we to be ambassadors? One of the main reasons to be an ambassador is because of the Great Commission that Christ gave His disciples, and has also given to us as His modern day disciples. In Mark 16:15-18 we are admonished to,
Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them: they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
We cannot, we dare not, keep the Good News to ourselves – it should be something that is contagious – it needs to spread like a raging fire. In Matthew 10:25-28 the Savior teaches us,
It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
However, before we can be ambassadors, we need to know who or what we are representing. If, for example, we took a job as an ambassador of a country that we knew nothing about or had ever visited, we would not be able to perform our duties as an ambassador very well. We would literally be operating in the dark. Similarly, in order for us to do a good job of representing Jesus Christ to an unbelieving world we need to first spend time getting to know Him by spending time with Him on a regular basis – reading and studying His Word, spending time in prayer, and growing closer to Him.
Some of the qualities and characteristics of a good ambassador for Christ are:
- An ambassador does not appoint himself, he is appointed by Christ (2 Corinthians 5:18-20).
- An ambassador does not have to worry about supporting himself. He realizes that whom the Lord calls, He also prepares and will supply his every need (Ephesians 1:3; Philippians 4:19).
- An ambassador has clear instructions in written form – the Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16).
- An ambassador cannot take insults personally; he is accepted or rejected not on his own merit, but because of Whom he represents (John 15:19-21).
- An ambassador does not enter a country to gain profit for himself. His entire efforts are spent on serving the Lord and bringing glory to His name through the sharing of the Good News, which is the Gospel of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:15).
- An ambassador knows that he is the personal representative of someone else; everything that he says and does reflects on the One who sent him (John 13:35; 17:23).
- An ambassador’s perspective is service; his prospect is reward. He is commissioned for service and he will be rewarded (Matthew 5:12; 2 John 1:8; Revelation 22:12).
- An ambassador’s foundation is a sure foundation because it is built upon “the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God” and because he is built upon this foundation, he cannot fall (see Helaman 5:12).
Being an ambassador for Jesus Christ does not mean we need to stand on local street corners with huge “Turn or burn” banners. Being an ambassador for Christ means that we strive to be like Him in all that we say and do. It means that we have a servant’s heart and are willing to serve our fellowman. By having a servant’s heart we: (1) are kind and compassionate to everyone we meet, (2) challenge what is wrong, (3) speak out for truth, (4) are joyful, (5) refuse to conform to society’s standards, (6) have self control, (7) are spontaneous and creative, (8) live out life in all of its fullness, (9) do things as pleasing to God and not man, and (10) think of others rather than ourselves. As good ambassadors for Jesus Christ we have the mindset that it is not all about ourselves, it is all about serving and helping others.
We should be reminded of the words of King Benjamin in his powerful address when he presents his audience with the question:
For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind? (Mosiah 4:19).
He continues by saying unto them,
And behold, even at this time, ye have been calling on his name, and begging for a remission of your sins. And has he suffered that ye have begged in vain? Nay; he has poured out his Spirit upon you, and has caused that your hearts should be filled with joy, and has caused that your mouths should be stopped that ye could not find utterance, so exceedingly great was your joy (Mosiah 4:20).
And then he exhorts them by saying,
And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive, O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another (Mosiah 4:21).
Would not that substance which we have consist of our time, talents, and abilities which can be used in serving others?
Those who are called of Christ thus become His disciples, His servants, His agents, His ambassadors. They are sent forth to do the work that He has prepared for them to do and to be a personal representative of Him. Their words are His words, and their acts are His acts. When they serve within the field and scope of the authority that He has given them, it is as though the Lord Himself had said or done whatever is involved. Therefore, being an ambassador for Christ means that we are His hands and His feet to a dying world that so desperately needs Him.
Hear the Master as He instructs His ambassadors before they embark on their journeys,
And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits; and commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse: but be shod with sandals; and not put on two coats. And he said unto them, in what place soever ye enter into an house, there abide till ye depart from that place. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city (Mark 6:7-11).
We learn that after they had been instructed “they went out, and preached that men should repent. And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them” (Mark 6:12, 13).
That we may be humble, obedient, and loyal ambassadors for our Master is my humble prayer. In the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. Amen.