2 Corinthians 5:16-20 – “From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 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.”
Since the fall, we as people have fought to live for ourselves. We fight to show ourselves off. We fight to have our name recognized and acknowledged. We strive with all our own energy to be appreciated and respected and looked up to. What Paul tells us is that as followers of Christ, we live to represent someone other than ourselves! Paul Tripp says:
“The job of an ambassador is to represent someone or something. Everything he does and says must intentionally represent a leader who is not physically present. His calling is not limited to 40 hours a week, to certain state events, or to times of international crisis. He is always the king’s representative. He stands in the place of the king wherever he is, whatever he is doing. His relationships are not primarily driven by his own happiness. He decides to go places and do things because they will help him to faithfully represent the king. Thus the work of an ambassador is incarnational. His actions, character, and words embody the king who is not present.”
Do you view yourself in these terms? Do you see that your calling is not limited to 40 hours a week? Do you understand that all of your relationships and conversations must represent Jesus well? Do you understand your life as being incarnational?
The incarnation of Jesus was God coming to earth as a human. He took on the human form and ministered to humanity as a human. He was tempted as we are, yet without sin. He experienced the life we live and is therefore able to sympathize with our weaknesses. But beyond all of that, he came down to earth for the purpose of ministering to us. When Paul Tripp says that the work of an ambassador of Christ is incarnational, what he means is that we must go to where people are in order to accurately minister to the people we are sent to. Our ministry must be incarnational.
One common ministry fault that churches and individuals make is to dramatically separate themselves from those they are ministering to. Someone that wants to minister to people living in an urban context will need to live in the urban context, not out in the suburbs if they are going to be incarnational in their ministry as ambassadors of Christ.
As a church, one of our problems is that we are located on top of the hill just barely outside the city. If we are going to minister to people in the city, we can’t just always invite people to us. We need to go to the people in order to show people Jesus. Let us acknowledge that being an ambassador of Christ is not a 40-hour job. It is our life to be lived in the world, so that people will know Jesus through us!