Recognise Who You Are
Recognise Who You Are
The ambassadors I have met have always impressed me enormously. They have clearly been chosen very carefully. They have all been trained in the art of diplomacy. They are skilled at representing their country by both how they act and what they say.
To be an ambassador is an immense privilege. An ambassador is ‘a minister of the highest rank sent to a foreign court to represent the… sovereign or country’. A British Ambassador is a minister who represents Queen and country wherever they are sent.
Paul writes that we are ‘Christ’s ambassadors’ (2 Corinthians 5:20). The Greek word translated as ‘ambassador’ shares the same root as ‘presbyter’, which is one of the words used to describe church leaders. Whether you are in a recognised leadership role in the church or not, you are an ambassador of Christ, with the extraordinary privilege and responsibility of representing Jesus in this world. You are God’s representative on earth.
Through you, God makes his appeal for others to be reconciled to God; to receive his forgiveness, love and grace. Appeal to them to become friends of God and ambassadors themselves. As royal ambassadors, act with diplomacy and skill because you are representing Christ on earth.
Ambassadors to the whole worldPsalm 105:1-11
We are called as ambassadors to be a blessing to all nations. Jesus called us to go out to all the world and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19–20). The people of God are blessed in order to be a blessing to the whole world.
‘Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done’ (Psalm 105:1). Today, some of us do not even need to travel to be in contact with many nations. In London, where I live, practically every nation in the world is represented.
The psalmist writes, ‘Remember the wonders he has done’ (v.5a), and then he goes on to do exactly that. He goes back through all the things God has done for them.
What are some of your favourite memories? Take time to remember God’s blessing and to thank him. Find a diplomatic way, as an ambassador for Christ, to ‘tell everyone you meet what he has done!’ (v.1, MSG).
As an ambassador for Jesus, stay close to him. ‘Look to the Lord and his strength, seek his face always’ (v.4).
Lord, thank you for all the amazing wonders you have done for me. As I look to the days ahead, help me to make known among the nations what you have done.
Ambassadors with an urgent message2 Corinthians 5:11-6:2
We are all ‘Christ’s ambassadors’ (5:20). Paul, as an ambassador of Christ, seeks to ‘persuade people’ (v.11) about the truth of the gospel.
This is a big responsibility. It is urgent. Take it seriously: ‘It’s no light thing to know that we will all one day stand in that place of judgment. That’s why we work urgently with everyone we meet to get them ready to face God’ (v.11, MSG).
God makes his appeal through you. God could have made his appeal direct or through angels. Instead, he has chosen to do it through you and me. ‘God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing’ (v.19b, MSG). Paul writes, ‘We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God’ (v.20). ‘Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you’ (v.20, MSG).
- Love is… the motive
‘For Christ’s love compels us’ (v.14). ‘His love has the first and last word in everything we do’ (v.14a, MSG). You are called to live a life of love. First, love for Jesus, who died for us so that we should no longer live for ourselves but for him (v.15). Second, love for others, because we are convinced that Jesus died for them: ‘One man died for everyone’ (v.14b, MSG).
- Love is… the message
The message is: ‘God loves you.’ He welcomes you with open arms. Because Jesus died for you, you can be a friend of God. You can approach him boldly and confidently as often as you choose.
The message is all about reconciliation (vv.18–19). Reconciliation is about restored friendship in a relationship of love – with God and with one another. It’s a huge privilege and joy to see people reconciled to God and to one another – especially in marriages, families and other broken relationships.
It is made possible through Jesus’ death and resurrection: ‘God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God’ (v.21, MSG).
Paul writes that ‘God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ’ (v.19). Some people caricature the New Testament teaching and suggest that God is barbaric and unjust because he punished Jesus, an innocent party, instead of us. This is not what the New Testament says. Rather, Paul writes, ‘God was… in Christ.’ He was himself the substitute in the person of his Son. He made it possible for us to be restored in a relationship with him.
As a result, ‘If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: the old has gone, the new has come!’ (v.17). As the New Living Translation puts it, ‘Those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!’ (v.17).
- Love is… the means
Never pressurise people. Rather, try to persuade them (v.11) because you love them. Implore them on Christ’s behalf (v.20). You are Christ’s representative. Jesus always acted in love and as his ambassadors you represent this love.
Paul writes, ‘I hope you realise how much and deeply we care’ (v.11, MSG). As is often said, ‘People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.’
Lord, help me to be a good ambassador of Christ. Help me to live a life of love. May Jesus’ love compel me in everything I do.
Ambassadors of holy loveIsaiah 1:1-2:22
‘The characteristic name for God in Isaiah is “The Holy”,’ writes Eugene Peterson. ‘Holiness is the most attractive quality, the most intensive experience we ever get of sheer life – authentic, firsthand living, not life looked at and enjoyed from a distance… Holiness is a furnace that transforms the men and women who enter it.’
Isaiah’s message is about God’s holy love for his people. God loves his people more than any parent loves a child.
Yet Isaiah says, ‘For the Lord has spoken: “I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me”’ (1:2). He goes on to speak of all the ways in which his children have rebelled – their unfaithfulness, the injustice they allow, and their failure to look after the widows and orphans (vv.21–23).
God’s desire is for holiness:
‘Sweep your lives clean of your evildoings
so I don’t have to look at them any longer.
Say no to wrong.
Learn to do good.
Work for justice.
Help the down-and-out.
Stand up for the homeless.
Go to bat for the defenseless’ (vv.16–17, MSG).
But they have failed and rebelled. Further, they are full of superstitions, they practise divination, and their land is full of materialism and idols (2:6–8).
Their religiosity is not working. The Lord says, ‘I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats’ (1:11c). ‘I can’t stand your trivial religious games… I’m sick of your religion, religion, religion, while you go right on sinning’ (vv.13–14, MSG).
Yet, God does not abandon them. He says, ‘Come now, let us reason together’ (v.18). ‘If your sins are blood-red, they’ll be snow-white. If they’re red like crimson, they’ll be like wool’ (v.18, MSG).
He promises, ‘Afterward you will be called the City of Righteousness, the Faithful City. Zion will be redeemed with justice, her penitent ones with righteousness’ (vv.26b–27a). Like Micah, he promises justice and peace will come (2:2–4).
But how? How can we who are sinful and rebellious be made righteous? How can we, whose ‘sins are like scarlet’, be made ‘white as snow’ (1:18)? How will these remarkable promises of the Old Testament be fulfilled?
Only in Jesus do we find the solution. The Old Testament prophets foreshadow what was to come. The New Testament tells us how: in today’s New Testament passage we read how ‘God made him [Jesus] who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God’ (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Jesus, who ‘had no sin’, was made sin for us on the cross so that in him, though our sins are like scarlet, we could be made white as snow and become the righteousness of God. You become friends with God and an ambassador for Christ.
Lord, thank you for the immense privilege of being your ambassador, able to take your message to a world that desperately needs forgiveness and hope.
‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.’
At the beginning of September, life gets very busy with so many plans to make. I want to walk on God’s paths this September, I want to hear his voice, and bring myself again to God and say, ‘Teach me your ways, Lord.’
Verse of the Day
‘Those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!’ (2 Corinthians 5:17, NLT).
Eugene Peterson, The Message, 'Introduction to Isaiah', (NavPress, 1993).
Webster English Dictionary.
Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.