9/2: You Are an Ambassador (诗105:1-11 林后5:11-6:2 赛1:1-2:22)


读经:诗105:1-11 林后5:11-6:2 赛1:1-2:22

You Are an Ambassador

The ambassadors I have met have always impressed me enormously. They have clearly been chosen very carefully. They have all been trained in the art of diplomacy. They are skilled at representing their country both by how they act and what they say.

To be an ambassador is an immense privilege. An ambassador is ‘a minister of the highest rank sent to a foreign court to represent the… sovereign or country.’ A British Ambassador is a minister who represents Queen and country wherever they are sent.

Paul writes that we are ‘Christ’s ambassadors’ (2 Corinthians 5:20). The Greek word translated as ‘ambassador’ is presbeuo. It shares the same root as ‘presbyter’, which is one of the words used to describe church leaders. Whilst Paul is talking about himself and his partners in the gospel, the point he makes applies more broadly than that. Whether you are in a recognised leadership role in the church or not, you are an ambassador of Christ, with the extraordinary privilege and responsibility of representing Jesus in this world. You are God’s representative on earth.

Through you God makes his appeal for others to receive his forgiveness, love and grace. We appeal to them to become friends of God and ambassadors themselves. As royal ambassadors we need to act with diplomacy and skill because we are representing Christ on earth.

1. Ambassadors to the whole world

Psalm 105:1-11We are called as ambassadors to be a blessing to all nations. Jesus called us to go out to all the world and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19–20). The people of God are blessed in order to be a blessing to the whole world.

‘Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done’ (Psalm 105:1). Today, there are so many opportunities to travel to other nations. But some of us do not even need to travel to be in contact with many nations. In London, where I live, practically every nation in the world is represented.

The psalmist writes, ‘Remember the wonders he has done’ (v.5a), and then he goes on to do exactly that. He goes back through all the things God has done for them. It is so important to keep remembering and giving thanks for all God’s blessings.

What are some of your favourite memories? Take time to remember God’s blessing and to thank him. Find a diplomatic way, as an ambassador for Christ, to ‘tell everyone you meet what he has done!’ (v.1, MSG).

Lord, thank you for all the amazing wonders you have done for me. As I look to the days ahead, help me to make known among the nations what you have done.

2. Ambassadors with an urgent message

2 Corinthians 5:11-6:2We are all ‘Christ’s ambassadors’ (5:20). Paul, as an ambassador of Christ, seeks to ‘persuade people’ (v.11) about the truth of the gospel.

This is a big responsibility. It is urgent and we should take it seriously: ‘It’s no light thing to know that we will all one day stand in that place of judgment. That’s why we work urgently with everyone we meet to get them ready to face God’ (v.11, MSG).

God makes his appeal through you. God could have made his appeal direct or through angels. Instead he has chosen to do it through you and me. ‘God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing’ (v.19b, MSG). Paul writes, ‘We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God’ (v.20). ‘Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you’ (v.20, MSG).

  • The motive is love
    ‘For Christ’s love compels us’ (v.14). ‘His love has the first and last word in everything we do’ (v.14a, MSG). You are called to live a life of love. First, love for Jesus, who died for us so that we should no longer live for ourselves but for him (v.15). Second, love for others, because we are convinced that Jesus died for them: ‘One man died for everyone’ (v.14b, MSG).
  • The message is love
    The message is: ‘God loves you’. He welcomes you with open arms. Because Jesus died for you, you can be a friend of God. You can approach him boldly and confidently as often as you choose.

The message is all about reconciliation (vv.18–19). Reconciliation is about restored friendship in a relationship of love – with God and with one another. It is made possible through Jesus’ death and resurrection: ‘God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God’ (v.21, MSG).

Paul writes that ‘God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ’ (v.19). Some people caricature the New Testament teaching and suggest that God is barbaric and unjust because he punished Jesus, an innocent party, instead of us. This is not what the New Testament says. Rather, Paul writes, ‘God was… in Christ.’ He was himself the substitute in the person of his Son. He made it possible for us to be restored in a relationship with him.

As a result, ‘If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: the old has gone, the new has come!’ (v.17). As the New Living Translation puts it, ‘Those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore for the old is gone. A new life has begun’ (v.17).

  • The means is love
    Never pressurise people. Rather, we try to persuade them (v.11) because you love them. Implore them on Christ’s behalf (v.20). You are Christ’s representative. Jesus always acted in love and as his ambassadors we need to represent this love.

Paul writes, ‘I hope you realise how much and deeply we care’ (v.11, MSG). As is often said, ‘People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.’

Lord, help me to be a good ambassador of Christ. Help me to live a life of love. May Jesus’ love compel me in everything I do. Thank you for the wonder of seeing people reconciled to God and to one another – especially in marriages, families and broken relationships.

3. Ambassadors of holy love

Isaiah 1:1-2:22‘The characteristic name for God in Isaiah is “The Holy,”’ writes Eugene Peterson. ‘Holiness is the most attractive quality, the most intensive experience we ever get of sheer life – authentic, firsthand living, not life looked at and enjoyed from a distance… Holiness is a furnace that transforms the men and women who enter it.’

Isaiah’s message is about God’s holy love for his people. God loves his people more than any parent loves a child.

Yet Isaiah says, ‘For the Lord has spoken: “I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me”’ (1:2). He goes on to speak of all the ways in which his children have rebelled – their unfaithfulness, the injustice they allow, and their failure to look after the widows and orphans (vv.21–23).

God’s desire was that they should be holy:

‘Sweep your lives clean of your evildoings
so I don’t have to look at them any longer.
Say no to wrong.
Learn to do good.
Work for justice.
Help the down-and-out.
Stand up for the homeless.
Go to bat for the defenceless’ (vv.16–17, MSG).

But they have failed and rebelled. Further, they are full of superstitions, they practise divination, and their land is full of materialism and idols (2:6–8).

Their religiosity is not working. The Lord says, ‘I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats’ (1:11c). ‘I can’t stand your trivial religious games… I’m sick of your religion, religion, religion, while you go right on sinning’ (vv.13–14, MSG).

Yet, God does not abandon them. He says, ‘Come now, let us reason together’ (v.18). ‘If your sins are blood-red, they’ll be snow-white. If they’re red like crimson, they’ll be like wool’ (v.18, MSG).

He promises, ‘Afterward you will be called the City of Righteousness, the Faithful City. Zion will be redeemed with justice, her penitent ones with righteousness’ (vv.26b–27a). Like Micah, he promises justice and peace will come (2:2–4).

But how? How can we who are sinful and rebellious be made righteous? How can we, whose ‘sins are like scarlet’, be made ‘white as snow’ (1:18)? How will these remarkable promises of the Old Testament be fulfilled?

Only in Jesus do we find the solution. The Old Testament prophets foreshadow what was to come. The New Testament tells us how: in today’s New Testament passage we read how ‘God made him [Jesus] who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God’ (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Jesus, who ‘had no sin’, was made sin for us on the cross so that in him, though our sins are like scarlet, we could be made white as snow and become the righteousness of God. You can become friends with God.

Lord, thank you for your amazing grace, foreshadowed and foretold by the prophet Isaiah and fulfilled in Jesus through his cross and resurrection. Thank you for the immense privilege of being your ambassadors, able to take this message to a world that desperately needs hope and forgiveness.

Pippa Adds

Isaiah 2:3

‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.’

At the beginning of September life gets very busy with so many decisions to make. I’m aware I still have so much to learn about his ways and I want to know which exciting paths God has planned for me to walk down during this season.