by Paul David Trip
“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.” (2 Corinthians 5:20)
“I love the Apostle Paul’s word choice here – ambassador.
The job of an ambassador is to represent someone or something. Everything he does and says must intentionally represent a leader who isn’t physically present. His calling isn’t limited to forty hours a week, to certain state events, or to times of international crisis. He’s always the king’s representative.
In other words, the work of an ambassador is incarnational. His actions, character, and words embody the king who isn’t present. In the same way, Paul says that God has called us all to function as His ambassadors. Everything we say and do has import because of the King we represent.
This isn’t a part-time calling. It’s a lifestyle. We represent God’s purposes to the people He places in our lives. The primary issue is, “How can I best represent the King in this place, with this particular person?” This is much broader than a commitment to formal ministry occupying a portion of our schedule.
When we, as ambassadors, assume our responsibilities, our lives cease to be our own. We need to acknowledge that our lives belong to the King. Our lives don’t belong to us for our own fulfillment anymore.
Can you see where we get ourselves into trouble? Often we don’t really want to live as ambassadors. We want to live for ourselves. But I’ll discuss that in the next post.
In the first post we dissected the Apostle Paul’s word choice in 2 Corinthians 5:20. He refers to us as Christ’s ambassadors. An ambassador represents someone or something. Everything they do must be intentional. It’s not a part-time calling. It’s a lifestyle.
When we become ambassadors for Christ, our lives cease to be our own. We need to acknowledge that our lives belong to the King. But this is where we get ourselves into trouble. We don’t really want to live as ambassadors.
We’d rather live as mini-kings. We know what we like and the people we want to be with. We know the kind of house we’d like to own and the car we want to drive. Without even recognizing it, we quickly fall into a “my desire, my will, and my way lifestyle.”
If we’re honest, the central prayer of our hearts is “my kingdom come, my will be done.” This is why Christ said that to be his disciples, we must die to ourselves. No one can serve two masters. Ambassadors must die to their own kingship before they can properly represent the one true King.
Why does it seem that people, things, and situations are in our way? Why do we seldom go through a day without some experience of conflict? The answer is that we think of our lives as our own. We’re more committed to the purposes of our own kingdom than we are to God’s.
What about you this week? How are you doing as an ambassador for Christ?
“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us” (2 Corinthians 5:20).
An appeal is an argument or a plea. God is using you – the ambassador – to appeal for something in the life of another. Certainly, this has an evangelistic application, yet Paul is writing to Christians and saying, “Be reconciled to God.” Something more than evangelism is in view here.
Look back to verse 15: “And he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”
What is the purpose of the cross? Paul would say that it’s not just an eternity in heaven, but also the recapturing of people’s hearts to serve God alone. Our sin causes us to be incredibly self-absorbed, reducing us to idolatrous worshipers of self.
Christ died to break the back of our self-absorbed idolatry. The focus of Christ’s work is to deliver us from our bondage to ourselves! Why do believers need to be reconciled to God? Because as long as sin indwells us, we’ll tend to wander away from the worship of the Lord to serve ourselves.
God is intent on owning our hearts unchallenged. His goal is that our lives would be shaped by our worship of him and nothing else. He has sent us as his ambassadors to make his appeal for people’s hearts. “ Paul David Tripp