“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”2 Corinthians 5:20-21
Some of you remember the Cold War, the “peaceful” conflict between the United States and the former Soviet Union that occurred after WWII into the late 80’s and early 90’s. My family had a front row seat to the conflict. My father was the senior enlisted soldier for Army intelligence in West Berlin, Germany from 1981-1986. We lived 100 miles inside East Germany. We were an island of freedom in the middle of a sea of communism. Living our lives in such an isolated city, far from our extended family in the United States, was often difficult.
One Christmas in Berlin, our family prepared to make our annual visit to the dining facility of the unit my dad served. He and the colonel would serve the soldiers who had to work on Christmas day their turkey and dressing for lunch. On this occasion, the US Ambassador to West Germany, Ambassador Arthur Burns, ate Christmas dinner with us that year. He told us that the President was very grateful for what we were doing in West Berlin and that our country was also thankful. The fact that he represented the authority of the US and the love of the folks back home meant a great deal to us. His message was one filled with hope. We were just one of the many units he visited that day. Numerous soldiers heard his message and received his thanks on behalf of the President of the United States, Ronald Reagan.
Now that I’m a Christ follower, I can never think back to meeting Ambassador Burns without thinking of Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 5:20-21. He writes, “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Three things strike me regarding our role as ambassadors for Christ:
We are sent out with the authority of Christ Jesus.
He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. He’s the one at whose feet every knee will bow in heaven and earth and under the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. (Philippians 2:9-11) He is the One who gives the command to make disciples after He’s declared that He has all authority. (Matthew 28:16-20) He is the One through whom all things were created. Wherever we go as Christ followers, we go in the authority of King Jesus. He already has dominion over sin, death, and Hell. Understanding that we represent the authority of the God most high should make us bold ambassadors for Christ.
We are sent out with the message of the gospel.
Like Ambassador Burns, we have a message to proclaim; however, our message is the greatest news of victory ever spoken. We need to make sure that we are good stewards of the gospel message we proclaim as ambassadors for Christ. We must guard against sharing a false gospel. We must trust in the power of the message to make new creatures and bring life to people dead in their sins. We must call people we encounter on a daily basis to repent and believe in Christ Jesus.
We are in the active service of the King.
The Apostle Paul saw his employment as a tent maker as a means for deployment and active service in sharing the gospel and planting churches. We too should see our jobs as a means to provide for us so that we can actively share the gospel and seek the advancement of the Kingdom of Christ. As I mentioned in August, 71% of unchurched Americans say no one has ever shared with them how to become a Christian. 79% of them say they would listen to someone share the gospel if they knew the person was sincere in his/her beliefs. We have a great opportunity for active service as ambassadors for King Jesus.
So, are you going as one sent out by the authority of the Most High God? Are you faithfully carrying and proclaiming the message of the gospel? Are you actively serving and seeking the advancement of the Kingdom of Christ?
I pray that you and I will be ambassadors for Christ indeed.
(THIS ARTICLE ORIGINALLY APPEARED IN THE OCTOBER EDITION OF THE BAPTIST COURIER.)
Dr. Tim McKnight is Assistant Professor of Missions and Youth Ministry at Anderson University. He has over 21 years of experience in ministry, serving churches in Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Alabama, North Carolina, and South Carolina. He served in youth ministry for 12 years and in the pastorate for 9 years. In addition, Dr. McKnight served as an infantry chaplain in the U.S. Army, deploying on Operations Noble Eagle and Enduring Freedom in 2001. He holds a BS in Criminal Justice from Bluefield College, and a M.Div. and PhD from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. His primary field of study for the Ph.D. was in evangelism, with additional studies in missions and church history. He has also co-founded Carolina Family Planning Centers and founded Twin Vision Consultants, a church consultation team that helps congregations become healthy and growing churches. He has also served as a disaster relief chaplain in multiple settings in recent years, including in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake and Hurricanes Ivan and Katrina.