“…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. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
II Corinthians 5:17-21
I have a friend who plays online games with people around the country. Believers and nonbelievers alike join together to defeat a common enemy. My friend has expressed to me how strange it is sometimes to be playing with other Christians and hear them swear more than the nonbelievers, make crude jokes, and sometimes be just rude. He’s also told me how other nonbelievers, when the Christians leave the game, will mention how strange it is too.
Even those who don’t know Christ know this is not what they should expect from ambassadors of the kingdom.
We need to realize who we are. As new creations, we are given the weighted, glorious task of being ambassadors of Christ: a role that requires the outward expression of an inward affection.
A High Calling
We all know what being an ambassador means today. It’s being a representative, a model citizen acting on behalf of your home country in a foreign land. This in itself is incredibly meaningful – if you are in Christ, you are called to this standard. You are called to be a diplomat. Every action is being seen by God and man and reflecting back on who Jesus is and what His kingdom looks like.
But traditional ambassadors as we know them today didn’t enter history until about 1300 A.D. Prior to that, in Ancient Rome, the responsibilities were just as weighted, but the significance lied in the very identity of the ambassador. Unlike today, it was not a position earned. It was a position given by birth – ambassadors were chosen from those born into the senatorial family.
Therefore, when Paul refers to us as ambassadors, not only is he saying that we are representing the kingdom, but he is saying we are considered highly valued members of the King’s family. This means we are not merely detached representatives in a foreign land, but we are sons and daughters of the diplomacy. We represent the operation and overall character of the country we are from, as well as the royal family.
You, believer, are called to be an ambassador. You are called to live in such a way that is representing the kingdom of God and the family that you have been adopted into.
Most believers are familiar with the first verse of the passage I shared at the beginning of this post, II Corinthians 5:17. What a beautiful promise! The old is dead, gone. The sinful nature that once prevented us from being with our Creator is forgiven, daily. We are made completely new.
As we see above, the passage continues in explaining what this glorious process entailed – “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.” (II Corinthians 5:18)
First, this recreation is from God. All from God. Nothing of our own merit, our own effort, desire, work, etc. Second, it is reconciliation. The change into a new creation involved taking the offense we caused toward a holy God and making amends, namely by the sacrifice of the perfect Son of God.
And finally, in our completely new identity, God is “entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.”
Being a new creation has heavy implications. Putting this verse back into context, we see the extent of responsibility our new state holds.
We were once dead, condemned orphans. We were without a life-giving purpose.
We are now alive, redeemed children. With a driving mission to deliver the message of our reconciliation in every aspect of our life.
We are ambassadors.
The Heart of the Ambassador
The question then follows – how do we find the drive from within to more than simply follow orders, but to live within them freely and eagerly?
It’s a poor ruler that instills rules for the kingdom without giving purpose to them. There is no desire to serve, much less represent, a kingdom with pointless restrictions and loveless ordinations.
We, dear Christian, serve a King who operates purely out of love. A perfect love. A love that is close, intimate, complete. A love that is not afraid to break in order to build. A love that condemns what is wrong and destructive so that we may be saved from its bonds.
The heart of the Christian ambassador should operate from this place of love – a love for the King that has redeemed and adopted them, and by extension a love for His continual glorification. I’ve written before on how the human heart, sinful by nature, has no desire to obey. But if we are truly children of the King, shouldn’t we want holiness? We will always be at war with the flesh (Galatians 5:17), but a key sign of your salvation in the work of Christ is the deeper desire to be holy (expressed so vulnerably by Paul in Romans 7:15-25, and this new nature described in Romans 8:15-17).
Do you feel a desire to be holy? Do you find yourself fighting and hating your sin? If you don’t, ask yourself: Do I love my Savior with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, before anything else (John 14:15, Luke 10:27)?
Truth is, no one can answer an honest yes to this question. But we should be seeing a desire and continual seeking to remove everything that prevents us from loving Christ fully.
Ask yourself: Do I have that growing desire? Do I know the true Jesus?
Affection via Expression
This life of holiness then goes even further. With a heart driven by love for our King, we then express this love externally through our actions. And we are called to not only obey our Savior in our own convictions, but to mind how others perceive us as well. Our reputation does matter.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light… Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
I Peter 2:9, 12
Paul wraps up the passage at the beginning of this post with pleading to the Corinthians, laying on the full weight of their debt: “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.” Becoming a new creation is not merely wiping off smudges and calling it finished. It is a recreation that involved an incredible sacrifice. A recreation from something that was dead and condemned into someone who is alive and cherished through the death and condemnation of the firstborn of all creation.
When we realize the weight of our redemption, we can’t help but have affection for our Redeemer. An affection for our Savior will always result in an outward expression. This will look different from the rest of the world (Romans 12:2, James 1:27). If you are an ambassador of Christ, believer, you will actively fight sin and strive to live a holy life. You will walk humbly, being honest about your stumbles, longing to reach the lost because you recognize how lost you were before your new citizenship. The heart of the ambassador is filled with a love so complete, so consuming, that his first desire is no longer for himself to receive glory, but for the object of his love – God – to receive all glory. And a primary way this glory is given through obedience. Complete, relentless obedience.
Therefore, if we are in Christ, we are new creations. We have been given the title of ambassador.
It’s time we live like it.