The ice cream shop from my childhood is long gone, but the memories of our visits are still there. It’s not the ice cream I recall so much, but the red signs with white letter that adorned the walls and every nook and cranny of that little treat shop. Each sign had a brief saying that never ceased to amaze me. Most of the quotes have faded from my immediate memory, but one continues to stick in my mind after all these decades. It said, quite simply,
Paul put it another way to the Corinthians. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors as though God were making His appeal through us. (2 Corinthians 5:20). An ambassador is one who represents someone else.
The United States has ambassadors in many other countries around the world. Those men and women are considered the “official representatives” of the people called American to those other nations. In the event of an international crisis or incident, the first person to make an “official” American response is usually our ambassador to that country. They are the “mouth pieces” of the American people on non-American soil. They are also seen as the embodiment of the United States in a place far from their native land. The peoples of those countries where we have embassies look at our ambassadors as the incarnation—the “in-flesh-ment”—of the principles, ideals, attitudes and actions that are American.
In the same way, the non-Christian looks to the Church (you and me) as the embodiment, the incarnation or “in-flesh-ment” of God. The glorious, exciting “good news” of the Gospel is reflected in the almost understated truth recorded by John in his gospel. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1, 14a)
Jesus – an ambassador
Think about it! In Jesus of Nazareth, born in a Bethlehem stable and laid in a manger, God took on human form and substance. The Almighty and all-powerful Creator took on the same physical limitation as you and me. In Jesus, GOD BECAME PERSONAL. For the first time since the Garden of Eden, humanity was able to see what God was like. Jesus, the physical manifestation of Yahweh, was an ambassador of God.
So are we! Because we claim allegiance to Jesus Christ and because we are His Church, the world expects to see Jesus when it looks at us. What an awesome responsibility. We are the church—you and me—GOD MADE VISIBLE—to a struggling, broken and confused world.
What kind of picture of God do you present?
Is He a stern Judge, looking with disapproval on all we do, eager to pour out His wrath and anger? OR is He a loving, accepting Father who enjoys His children and eagerly waits to forgive them when they realize the error of their ways? What kind of gospel does your life preach? Is it a gospel of “good news”, hope, forgiveness, encouragement, love and joy? Or is it a gospel of judgment, criticism, resentment, condemnation, anger and self-centeredness?
We are the Church—a covenant community where God is made visible. Our actions, attitudes, words and motives are considered to be the reflections of the One we claim to follow and represent.
We are God’s personal representatives—you and I—at home, school, in the office, factory, grocery store or field. Channels through which God’s message flows both in the world and within these four walls is what we are to be. We are called, as individual Christians AND as the Church of Jesus Christ to make God visible to those around us.
It is not an easy task. It is a high and holy calling. That the Almighty God would trust the likes of you and me with His message of forgiving love is incredible, but He does.
It will take a Church that is willing (and able) to make God visible to world that is desperately needy, often blinded by sin, distracted by temptation and led astray by its own lusts and passions. We are the Church—AMBASSADORS FOR CHRIST, GOD MAKING HIS APPEAL THROUGH US. Let’s get to work!