Dear GCI Family and Friends,
If our GCI culture is sourced and shaped by our central personality, Jesus, then for all practical purposes we are ambassadors of Jesus.
What do you think of when you hear the word ambassador? Does your mind think about a politician, or a diplomat who represents our nation in a far-off land? Does it feel overwhelming? Perhaps you think that’s just not me. But maybe it is you.
When we read Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 5, we realize he is stating our ambassadorship as a matter of fact.
So, we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:20 NRSVA)
Because we are new creations in Christ (verse 17), and he resides in us, the natural flow is that we are his earthly representatives. We are in the mix of the reconciliation ministry of Christ.
A strong parallel thought to being Christ’s ambassadors is that Jesus came in the flesh, and in his public ministry he continuously and persistently announced his eternal kingdom (Mark 1:15). In Luke 17:21, Jesus indicated that he had inaugurated the kingdom of God by his presence — the king is among them. Since the days of John the Baptist, the kingdom is advancing and breaking in (Matthew 11:11-13). The kingdom has a here-and-now dimension that we need to tap into. I call this the kingdom culture.Read More
As ambassadors of Christ, it is imperative that we have kingdom eyes, a kingdom message, and kingdom actions.
In this fallen, broken world, do we as believers rise above and see the beautiful transforming work of Jesus through the Spirit? Do we see beyond the shootings and violence being reported on the news streams to the acts of kindness and faith? In most shootings and violence stories, some peole ran in to help, or some who tried to intervene. Not any less, acts of kindness might include one neighbor mowing another neighbor’s lawn. It could be a generous donor supporting a ministry in a developing country. Hopefully, all believers are relating to friends, family, and co-workers who are not yet believers — building strong, loving, credible relationships.
This is the message of reconciliation. God is not counting your sins against you; he has resolved that matter in Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:19). This is really, really good news!
As ambassadors, we are taking and carrying seriously good news about the true King, the great reconciler, Jesus. The strength of our message is contained in what he has done for us and through us. Our personal testimonies are how we give witness to the reality of Jesus.
According to the Barna Group’s research, some 61% of people surveyed in the U.S. see Jesus as the standard for being a good person. Shows like The Chosen, and the advertisement piece, “He Gets Us – All of Us,” establish the historical validity of Jesus and display his goodness. It then falls onto the shoulders of us church folks to proclaim his divinity and draw others into the worship of our Lord and God. The King is a nice guy and so much more.
I think back to an Update letter I wrote in April about the beatitudes of Jesus. Because Jesus lives in us, we are to display meekness and humility in a world of pride and narcissism. Do we behave righteously when we are stressed and persecuted? Are we proactively making peace where there are factions in our circles of influence? We are empowered to live out these kingdom actions as Jesus lives in us. Not I, but Christ!
If we truly are Christ’s ambassadors and bringers of the good news, how do we live this out in a post-Christian world? Chapter 5 in Jon Ritner’s book, Positively Irritating, gives excellent instruction. On page 64, Jon writes,
All human longings ultimately find their fulfillment in God’s presence and his kingdom. The thirst for unconditional acceptance and love, deep healing and wholeness, significance and value, community and connection, all point us to God. Our job as missionaries [or ambassadors, my addition], is to identify the obvious yearnings in the culture around us and help people to find the ultimate fulfillment for those longings in God.
As Christ’s ambassadors and kingdom citizens now, may we all have sharper kingdom eyes, be bold in sharing the kingdom message, and by the power of the Spirit, live out kingdom actions.
Prayer: Lord, by your grace, empower GCI to more deeply live out the kingdom culture that you began over 2,000 years ago. Amen!
Living in the culture,