Series: 2 Corinthians
2 Corinthians 5:20
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
Someone humorously said that there are two things that you can do on earth that you can’t do in heaven. One is sin and the other is to tell others the good news of Jesus Christ. Now which of these does the Lord want you to do? In this passage the apostle is presenting the good news of what God has accomplished in Christ: a new creation and reconciliation. On account of the cross, God has made peace and welcomes people back to friendship with him. And he has given us this message.
In this verse Paul opens up more of what the Lord has committed to us. What is the meaning of “you” in this verse?
Some would restrict it to those within the Corinthian assembly in various ways. But I think that this is unnecessary in light of the larger context: “we try to persuade others” (5:11) and “gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself” (5:18-19).
I. The concept of an ambassador
A. In both ancient and modern times, to be an ambassador involves three ideas.
1. The ambassador is commissioned for a special assignment by a sender.
2. The ambassador represents the sender.
3. The ambassador exercises the authority of the sender.
B. To be Christ’s ambassador, however, has some important differences.
1. Christ’s ambassadors do not enjoy diplomatic immunity. Our Lord does not promise us that he will get us out of unpleasant situation. Thus, to be an ambassador for Jesus includes risk taking. We do not wear splendid clothes; we might end up in chains (2 Tm 1:16).
2. Christ’s ambassadors are on the job for life—members of the new creation, while living out our lives in the last days of the old creation. We’re never called back to the home country for a sabbatical or some down time. We’re always in a hostile situation.
3. In this world, ambassadors are usually exchanged when two nations want to be on friendly terms with each other. With us, Christ sends us to seek a friendly situation, not through negotiations at a neutral site, but face to face in unfriendly territory.
4. Ambassadors in this world are usually natural born citizens with a long track record of loyalty and experience. Christians are born again and usually thrust out early into their roles as ambassadors. So it seems to me that Christians should desire to learn quickly what being an ambassador requires to avoid causing problems for themselves.
II. The task of being Christ’s ambassador
A. We must look realize that we act in Christ’s name and place in this world. We are his bride, his body, his building, his new community, and also his ambassadors.
1. Clearly, this gives us significance and responsibility at the same time. A Christian should not be asking, “Does my little life matter?” In this world, people regard an ambassador as a prestigious person. Brother or sister, remember that you are Christ’s emissary. You are on a diplomatic mission for the Lord of glory! So simply get busy doing the job of being his ambassador and you will find out how significant you are. If you are young, you have your whole life to give in exciting and imaginative ways to serve him. If you are over fifty, the Lord is not looking for a way to lay you off, because your best years are behind you and you’re getting too expensive for the payroll. Your experience is an assent you can use on your mission. And even when you’re old and confined to your bed for the last time, you’re still on the job. It matters how you use your weakened body, and you can still be strong in faith, giving glory to God.
2. We must develop a Christ-structured approach to the task of being the Lord’s ambassadors. Exactly how does the Lord expect us to carry out our mission in our unique situation? How can Christ be forming our lives, so that they encounter him through us? I think he expects us to be street-wise, like he was. He knew the danger of talking with an immoral woman at the well. But he found a way to explain his mission to her. So you have this friend or neighbor or coworker or a new person in your group. How can you present God’s peace plan to him or her? Are they skittish? You don’t want to chase them off. Are they hostile? How can you be friendly toward them? Are they preoccupied with some concern? Can you use even that for Christ’s advantage? And let us not forget that we have the Helper, the Holy Spirit with us to guide us in doing this mission.
B. We must always realize that our mission is the message of reconciliation. Notice the connecting word “therefore”.
1. Christ has sent us to present a clear and definite message. God in Christ has effectively dealt with his alienation from sinners and welcomes them back to friendship or fellowship with him. God did this at the cross. Wrath against sin had to be satisfied and a perfect righteousness provided for formerly guilty sinners. So God made peace in Christ at the cross. We cannot tone this down. Sinful people need to hear how desperate their condition was and how much God did to secure a rich welcome back for all who come by faith in Jesus Christ.
2. This means that in our group and personal situations, we must not divert from the message of reconciliation and righteousness—the gospel of Christ. To gain a hearing for the message, we might pursue many means, like becoming volunteers in community programs or going to the movies or helping clean up a neighborhood or many other ways. But please don’t become so involved in the means that you forget the message! At some point, you will have to risk that budding friendship with that person or people, because you desire more greatly to be faithful to the Lord Jesus. It is at this point that you must recall that you are not simply there to be their friend or helper or caregiver. You are with them to be Christ’s personal ambassador to them. And weeks or months of painstaking effort can seemingly disappear in a few moments. Then you and I must simply trust the Lord.
Apply: What friendships are you building to be a friend and to make a friend for Jesus?
III. The enthusiasm of Christ’s ambassador
A. An enthusiasm that flows from the magnitude of what we’re involved in. It is quite natural to become excited when you’re sure that you’re part of something very important. For example, it’s easier to get motivated and to be excited about being a political worker for a candidate with good chances to win the election than for a minor candidate with almost no likelihood of winning. And the person on the team to elect the president probably thinks they’re doing something more significant than helping a neighbor get elected to the town council.
1. God is making his appeal to the unsaved through us. He could easily do it another way, but he has chosen to speak through us. Wow, God Almighty is speaking through us! This ought to light a fire in each of us!
2. God expects us to speak the message clearly (cf. Col 4:4). We’re not giving directions to a car wash but to knowing the Lord and eternal life, as those who are speaking for God. The point is not to scare you but to motivate you to speak accurately. “God has committed this message to me. This means he expects something from me!”
B. An enthusiasm that flows from the urgent tone of God’s appeal.
1. Both “appeal” and “implore” express an impassioned and urgent plea. God is speaking to persuade people through us. We are not announcing the high and low tides at the shore. We are talking about rescue and life or death!
2. And we do this for our great Savior—Jesus Christ! It is on Christ’s behalf. We urge people to be reconciled for him. This Christ-focus ought to permeate our appeal to people.
Apply: So then, to whom will you speak about Christ and for Christ this week? What progress are you making? May God the Holy Spirit press us forward and help us this week!
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://christmycovenant.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/frampton-dave.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Pastor Dave Frampton: When push comes to shove there is usually nothing more satisfying than for a saint of God to have at his or her disposal a source of biblically sound instruction in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The faithful and spiritually profitable labors of Dave Frampton are here at CMC to be a blessing. Bible teacher and student alike will profit much from his labor in the God’s Word. Visit Newtown Square Baptist Church[/author_info] [/author] [button link=”http://www.newtownsquarebaptist.org/” color=”red” newwindow=”yes”] Visit Newtown Square Baptist Church[/button]