For Americans wanting to serve abroad, one of the most coveted positions is that of an ambassador. Frequently the position is awarded based on some type of political favor to the president or his political party. While our sinful nature can cause this area to result in corruption with the appointment of persons who are not qualified there are legitimate reasons to appoint someone who is loyal to the president.
In order to understand this as well as what Paul was saying, we need to have an understanding of what the responsibilities and duties of an ambassador are.
First, an ambassador is a person who lives in a country that is not his own. The bible makes it plain that as believers, this world is not our home but our abode is in heaven. Now, an ambassador is not simply someone living in another country. There are many people who travel to other countries on visas to visit but they are not ambassadors, they are tourists. A tourist goes to a foreign country primarily for entertainment or a vacation. They do not go with the intention of working.
Another vital characteristic of an ambassador is that he is not there to espouse his own opinion or promote his own agenda, he is there exclusively to represent the one who sent him. Since the president cannot be in every country in earth at the same time, he appoints an ambassador to be his representative to that country’s leaders. If the president gives him a message to deliver regardless of whether he may agree with it or not, he is to deliver it exactly as he has been told. He has no right to change the message to what he thinks it should be.
Additionally, an ambassador is the face of his country to those he encounters. Many residents of a country will never travel abroad and as such, the only person they may see from that foreign country is the ambassador. If the ambassador behaves badly, they will assume everyone in his country is like that.
Marines who were deployed to Japan received a warning from the base commander that they were ambassadors not just of their branch of the military but their country as well and were admonished to conduct themselves honorably. Years ago some Marines raped a young woman in Okinawa.
The incident caused widespread protests as many of the island’s residents assumed this was indicative of all Americans. These Marines were not faithful ambassadors, they were wicked messengers. As Christ’s followers, we have a huge responsibility to represent Christ in a fallen world. So our conducts will determine whether Christ will be glorified through us or be put to shame. These two Scripture verses below are a great reminder of the kind of ambassador we must be.
An unreliable messenger stumbles into trouble, but a reliable messenger brings healing (Proverbs 13:17).
So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making His appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” (2 Corinthians 5:20).
As a Christian, like it or not you are an ambassador for Christ. As such, you have no right to promote your own agenda and to give your own opinion about certain issues, but are there to tell the world the message you are told to tell. This is why Paul told the residents of Corinth that he was speaking in Christ’s stead and asking them to be reconciled to God.
Are you living a holy, sanctified life in order to represent your home country of heaven well while you are living in this world? If they saw you what would they think heaven was like? Would your life cause them to want to go there or would they think heaven is a country to be avoided? Are you a faithful ambassador or a wicked servant? It’s up to you to determine that since you are fully aware of the kind of life you are living in front of those you should represent Christ to.