All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:18-20
I love that in the New Testament we get a glimpse at 13 letters that Paul wrote to churches and other believers. Each has a very personal feel. As Paul is speaking personally to the recipients of his letters, God also speaks personally to us. In this small section of Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth there is a lot that God is speaking to us.
First, Paul reminds them of the gospel by which they’ve been saved. The Corinthians (and we today) are reconciled to God through the atoning work of Jesus Christ. As a result of sin (which is rebellion against a holy and righteous God), our relationship with God is broken, and we face an eternal debt – death and hell. But Christ came as the ultimate, perfect sacrifice to pay that debt we owe. As a result of that debt being paid on our behalf, sin is defeated and we are reconciled in our relationship with God. Paul shares with them of this incredible truth in order to remind them that they have been transformed. The sin that once permeated their hearts, minds, actions, and motivations has been conquered by the power of the gospel.
The second thing Paul does in this passage is call the Corinthian church to action. He answers the question, if you’ve been reconciled to Christ, what are you going to do with that gift of grace? “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.” Any one who has experienced the grace of the gospel and has responded in faith to Christ is therefore an ambassador of Christ.
Colossians 1:13-14 says, “He [Jesus] has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Through Christ’s work we are transferred from being representatives and citizens of the domain of sin and darkness to the kingdom of Jesus Christ. As citizens of the Kingdom of God we are called to represent our King as his ambassadors.
An ambassador seeks to represent the nation they belong to while living in another country. When in a foreign place, an ambassador can’t turn-off his/her role as an ambassador. And the same is true for us. As a result of Christ’s work, we are now part of the kingdom of God, though for a while we live in a foreign land. Everything we say and do, we do as ambassadors of Christ. There’s a tremendous weight to that, isn’t there? If that truth really penetrates our hearts and minds, it’s going to effect how we live.
It will effect how we love people. Christ showed us selfless love and grace through all he did. Are we demonstrating selfless love toward others? Christ spoke the truth in love. Are we speaking the truth in love to others – including online? We live in an internet age where we can text, post, or tweet anything we want without seeing how it effects someone on the other side of the screen. We are ambassadors for Christ even while we’re on our electronic devices. Scripture calls us to do everything to glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).
Another indication of our gospel identity is how well we perform our work. Everything we do should be done with excellence (to the best of our ability). I could go on with other examples, but you get the point.
I don’t list these things as a call to perfection. That’s impossible. And there are plenty of times when I do not live out this call to be an ambassador for Christ very well. But I’m ever grateful that through God’s grace, mercy, and Spirit He is transforming me and shaping me to do it better each day. And it begins with remembering the gospel – recalling where we came from (domain of darkness, broken relationship with God) and where God has brought us (into the kingdom of the beloved Son, reconciled relationship). Have you meditated on the gospel today?