The Church: Ambassadors of Heaven

The word “ambassador” invokes an impressive image. I actually once wanted to be an ambassador (for some reason), so I know it takes a good bit of work. You have to have lots of education, experience in politics, a good handle on other languages, and an understanding of other cultures. The metaphor of a Christian as an ambassador similar has special requirements.

Firstly, the ambassador represents Heaven. Implicit in the term “ambassador” is the idea of being sent from one country to another. Christians are citizens of Heaven (Phil. 3:20-21), and while we are “in” the world, we are not “of”—we are not owned by—the world (Jn. 15:19; Jn. 17:16). In 2 Corinthians 5:18-20, God is described as seeking the reconciliation, or the “righting” of the world. The world is broken. The perfection is corrupt. So as followers of Jesus we do not claim citizenship in this broken place. Yet we live here on mission from Heaven.

Secondly, the ambassador speaks on behalf of God. Paul writes “we are ambassadors for Christ” (2 Cor. 5:20). Our ambassadorship is derived from Jesus. A few verses earlier, Paul says, “the love of Christ controls us” (2 Cor. 5:14) because of the salvation brought by Jesus. Then after narrating what God has done in the world, Paul says, “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:18). Through and through, the Christian is compelled by God, for God, to speak about God. Even Paul needs encouragement in this task. He asks for prayers in Ephesians: “that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak” (Eph. 6:19-20).

Thirdly, the ambassador is a force of change. The ambassador for Christ is entrusted with a message. Paul calls this the “ministry / message of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:18-19). It is about bringing the world to God, so that God can redeem the world. As in the Lord’s Prayer, we pray “Your kingdom come” (Matt. 6:10) because God’s Kingdom is breaking out over the world. It’s sort of an invasion, but one that people get to choose willing. We are God’s agents of change, even though God does the actual saving. Although we are not citizens of this world, we care about this world; we want to see the brokenness put back together so we show the world what a better vision of living looks like.

Being an ambassador of Heaven is a hard job. But our mission is important: to bring humans to God, so God can transform them—turning them into a New Creation (2 Cor. 5:17)!

Discussion Questions

  • What personal challenges arise when we live as “foreigners” on earth?
  • How can we practice becoming bolder when proclaiming the gospel?
  • What does the “ministry / message of reconciliation” mean for you?
  • What in the world is “broken” that we feel specially called to fix?
  • How do our lives change if we truly embrace being ambassadors of Heaven?

Prayer Prompt

Thank God for making you a New Creation, a citizen of Heaven not of earth. Pray for boldness in speaking God’s message of reconciliation. Prepare your heart to be a change-maker in the broken world.

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