“Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20)
Washington DC is home to over 160 foreign embassies, many of which are clustered around Massachusetts Avenue NW in an area known as Embassy Row. Many of the world’s nations, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, are represented here. Sightseeing in this portion of DC is wonderful, as these structures are often magnificent. After all, the mere sight of each one of these buildings is a visual depiction of an entire nation. What we see determines what we think about what they represent. Each nation realizes that our quick glance may be their only chance to make an impression upon us. They want that impression to be overwhelmingly favorable.
The people who work in these diplomatic missions have been handpicked. Like their buildings, these individuals represent their respective nations. They are sent to be a substitute for an entire population. Every interaction is important, and so they pick only the best to be their ambassadors. Our impression of their country may hinge upon our impression of a single encounter with a single individual. An ambassador is ever mindful of that weighty responsibility.
Christians are Christ’s ambassadors, sent to a foreign land on His behalf. What others see in us determines what they think about Who we represent. Every interaction is important. The impression of the world about Christ hinges upon their encounters with us. We should want that impression to be overwhelmingly favorable. Every encounter is important, and we should be ever mindful of that weighty responsibility. After all, we have been placed here in Christ’s stead.
An important analogy to our roles as ambassadors for Christ comes from the life of President Reagan’s Secretary of State George Schulz. Before sending a new ambassador out to the foreign field, Secretary Schultz would bring that individual in for a time of direction and counseling. At the end of the session, Schulz would direct the ambassador to a globe in the corner of his office and ask that individual to point to their country. That new ambassador would proudly walk over to the globe, spin it around, and almost always point to the country to which they were being sent. Secretary Schultz would then walk over to the globe, spin it around and point to the United States saying “No! This is your country!” It was a powerful reminder to the new ambassador that they were to represent the one who sent them, not the place where they lived.
Perspective is everything for ambassadors and diplomats. While these professionals are immersed in a climate and culture of a foreign land, and while they strive to build relationships and develop mutual understanding with foreign officials, they are there for a specific reason and purpose. A diplomat must always be mindful that they serve and represent their homeland. They are away from home to meet the objectives and goals of the place of their citizenship. There will be opportunities in their efforts for pathways of mutual benefit, but the goals of their sending land should always reign supreme in their minds.
We are ambassadors for Christ, and our perspective is critically important. While we are immersed in a climate and culture of a foreign land, and while we strive to build relationships and develop mutual understanding with those around us, we are here for a specific reason and purpose. We must always be mindful that we serve and represent our homeland of Heaven. We are away from our heavenly home to meet the objectives and goals of the place of our citizenship. There will be opportunities in our efforts for pathways of mutual benefit, but the goals of our sending land should always reign supreme in our minds.
With those important truths in mind, we are to unashamedly serve and represent our homeland as ambassadors for Christ. In doing so, we are to follow these important elements of ambassadorial duty:
Go with the purpose and the power of your sending nation
(Colossians 3:2, Acts 1:8, John 15:5).
Personally embody the characteristics of your sending nation
(Matthew 5:14–16, 1 Peter 2:9).
Further the interests and policies of your sending nation
(Colossians 3:17, Matthew 28:18–20).
Embrace a special responsibility to your fellow citizens
(Galatians 6:10, Philippians 1:27).
Handle adversity with poise and professionalism as you represent your sending nation
(Romans 12:1–2, Matthew 5:44).
Fortunately, we follow the perfect Ambassador as we do so. Ever mindful of Christ’s example during His ambassadorial duty in this lost and dying foreign land, we are to constantly remember that we represent the One who sent us, not the place where we live.