Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:20
So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”
I. REMEMBERING ALWAYS WHO WE ARE AND WHO WE REPRESENT
“We are Christ’s ambassadors.”
Ambassadors are seldom greater than the one they represent. A good ambassador forgets himself. He has no agenda. In every way, he/she is a reflection of their boss, king, president, etc. This is an awesome responsibility. Before leaving for New Orleans and Seminary, I put a bumper sticker on my car that read…”Honk, if you love Jesus.” It was one of the dumbest things I’ve done because I forgot that it was there. One day while driving in heavy traffic on I-59 in New Orleans, a hippie van with flowers painted on the side, the whole nine yards, passed me in the left lane, he was blowing his horn like a fool and I was upset. My wife calmly said, “It’s your bumper sticker. He is honking because he loves Jesus.” I probably said, “Then why don’t he get his hair cut?” I was thoroughly embarrassed, I had made a fool of myself but because of the bumper sticker, Jesus got bad publicity. When I got back to the apartment, I took the bumper sticker off; not because I was ashamed of Jesus but because I was ashamed of how I had represented Him.
I would be thrilled if I could tell you that this has never happened again but that would be a lie. Time and time again, I have misrepresented Jesus with poor to sorry behavior. We are a reflection on our LORD, good or bad. Some people keep their faith private so that they cannot commit the sin I committed but how can we represent HIM if we never mention HIS name or fail to tell people who we are and we ARE ambassadors of Christ. Denying Him is not a solution. We just have to remember always, that we represent HIM.
II. UNDERSTANDING ALWAYS THAT THE MINISTRY AND MESSAGE IS NOT OURS
Remembering is important but understanding is also important. Bearing His name puts pressure on us but understanding the ministry of reconciliation takes a lot of pressure off. I did not have this understanding in the early days but now I am comforted by the fact that RECONCILIATION is God’s idea, not mine. Christ has done the work, not me. This is a ministry that God has given to me in terms of an assignment but technically, it is HIS ministry and HIS message. No preacher of the gospel is perfect. From time to time we will misstate things. Our knowledge is not complete and our theology is not perfect but we preach the word of God, not our word. It is always a battle to separate our personal opinions from the word of God but we have to understand that He will bless His word, not ours.
As I shared a couple of weeks ago: this fact is a great confidence builder. This is God’s work–Christ secured our forgiveness–He did the work of atonement, we had nothing to do with it. This is His ministry, not ours. He thought of this, not us. I speak what He tells me to speak. I don’t have a message. I can’t imagine the pressure I would feel if I had to conjure up a message. When I go into homes or hospitals, I understand that I am only His representative, or clay servant. I’m not God, I have never had any illusions about being God. I have no power. I cannot heal. I go merely as His representative. I am a reminder that He cares and that He is present in the crisis. I did not understand this in the early days and was easily intimidated by difficult visits. I’m not great in difficult situations now but it helps to know that I represent HIM, I am an Ambassador, a servant sent–not a clone of the One who sent me. You would be surprised at how much this understanding changed my life.
III. ACTING ALWAYS, UNDER ORDERS WITH CONFIDENCE
Being a younger sibling in a family of 7, I was called upon many times to deliver messages. When mother or daddy sent me to the field to give my older brothers a message, I never said, “Get to the house guys, right now.” They would have beaten me on the spot. I had no authority over them. I always said, “Mother said or Daddy said, “Get to the house now.” A messenger doesn’t have to have authority, he just needs to get the message right. The authority comes from the one who sent the message.
I do what I do because God called me to do it. He commissioned me to work in the ministry of reconciliation. When my brothers ignored my message from Mother and Daddy, I didn’t take it personally. My job was to deliver the message and get it right. They could do as they pleased. It would be skin off of their back, not mine. Woe unto me if I failed to deliver the message but once the message was delivered, I was free. Whether they obeyed or not, made no difference to me so long as I had done my job which was to get the message to them. I am not advocating that we be indifferent about the response to the message but it is not our responsibility to determine results, only to deliver the message. Many a preacher has becomes discouraged by the lack of response.
If we are faithful to deliver HIS MESSAGE, their response is not personal. If they are in rebellion against God, they are going to rebel against you because you represent Him. Since they can’t get to HIM, they will take their anger out of you.
IV. PRACTICING ALWAYS, A SPIRIT OF GENTLE HUMILITY
To be honest with you; it is a mystery to me that God would entrust the ministry of reconciliation to us in the first place. It’s not like we are reliable. It is an awesome privilege to be a communicator of the gospel. This did not dawn on me until I was in the latter stages of my career. I wish I had understood this truth when I was a young man but I did not. At one time, I thought I was doing God a service by preaching and serving as a pastor but it was He doing me a service and I had so little sense that I didn’t realize the favor.
It is a blessed task but it is also an humble one. My constant failure and short comings remind me of my dependence upon Christ. I used to get up and hit the floor running but age has slowed me down and it was a good thing. Now I focus on being where God wants me when He wants me. I usually do some planning before I go to bed but then I pray again before leaving the house or office. There is a huge blessing in being at the right place at the right time. If God puts a person on my mind, I take that as a clue. He laid a woman on my heart a few days ago and so I changed my plans. I had been visiting her on Saturday and this was on a Tuesday but I didn’t question what I felt was the Holy Spirit guiding and I went that evening. Just a few minutes after we left, the sweet woman took her flight. I was absolutely amazed. If I had waited until Saturday, it would have been to late.
It is an humbling task to represent Jesus. How does a flawed crack pot like me represent the Son of God? Humbly, very humbly. Jesus was gentle, meek and mild. He never used force. He never manipulated anyone. I’m there to share HIS love and HIS message and I need to use HIS method. Anything I do out of character to who He is will be sin.
Jesus condescended to our low estate but He was not condescending. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. [Matthew 9:36] My goal is to see others the way Jesus sees me.