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Sunday, December 8, 2013

Ambassadors for Christ

I think one of my favorite passages in scripture has to deal with us being new creations in Christ - the old passing away, the new coming on strong.  Why? It speaks of new purpose - new hope.  I like it when I can "re-purpose" something I find at a garage sale, or in a local thrift store.  It gives me a sense of satisfaction to give something old a "new look" and then putting it to a "new use".  God does more than just give us a new look or put us to a new use - he actually "restores" us to a state we never knew we were capable of displaying or living!  This is to me the best news ever - what I didn't even know I was missing out on is made available to me through the work of the Creator in my life!  Okay...go ahead...say it!  AWESOME!

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.  All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;  that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.  Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.  For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.  (2 Corinthians 5:17-20 ESV)

Ambassadors are appointed agents who represent the one who has appointed them - they serve a specific purpose to represent the work and mission of the one they represent.  As such, they often bring a very specific message.  Christ has called us ambassadors of his very specific message - reconciliation.  We carry this message to those in our "circles" of friends and acquaintances. Those who otherwise would have no way of knowing they are missing out on what they were originally created for, hearing the message of the hope of restoration and reconciliation.  

Our part as ambassadors is to carry the message, but also to live it.  We don't know the power of a restored life until we see it "re-purposed" by the hand of the master Creator.  Truth is, we don't know the power of a transformed life until we see it lived out.  We don't know the potential of the "discarded" garage sale or thrift shop find until we envision it in its new state. The same is true in the lives of those we touch - we don't see their potential until we begin to see them through the eyes of Jesus.

As ambassadors, we proclaim the message - but it is more than a message in words.  It is a message of "re-purposed" lives being lived out in the "real" world.  Too many times we try to separate our "spiritual" lives from our "other" lives.  We have two separate ways of living out the message - one at church and one in the "real" world.  Can I just stop us for a moment here and remind each of us, me included, there is no more "real" world than the one we live out every day and no more important place to live as ambassadors of Christ than in this "real" world.  

God simply asks for us to reveal the reality of his work in our lives and the authenticity of his power to re-create what has been destroyed by sin.  His power to "re-purpose" a life is on display in you and me - our part is to not hide this from the "real" world, but to allow our lives to speak "loudly" of his grace and power.  As his authority is established in our lives, our lives change. Those changes speak of his grace, love, and power to redeem, restore, and re-purpose a life.  

When reconciliation occurs, something is brought into agreement or harmony which was clearly not in harmony before.  In reality, as long as we continue to live by our own "doing" and the standards we think are pretty close to living "good" lives, we are just barely living.  Until we are put into agreement with God through the work of Christ in our lives, we are not really living at all!  To restore means to bring back to original condition.  Apart from Christ's work in our lives, we can "sand away" at the marred areas in our lives, but we will never be fully "brought back" to our original condition.  It often amazes me what God can do when he has his way with those rough, marred areas of our lives!

If you can imagine for a moment what it would be like to walk into a room with all kinds of wobbly wooden chairs.  They each could serve a purpose as a chair in someone's home because they are all still with four legs, a seat, and a back.  But...they lack stability.  Their purpose is evident - they are chairs. They appear okay until you go to put any pressure on them.  That is when you see the rickety legs and the wobbly rungs.  They only give an impression of stability until they are under pressure - then the truth becomes known.

Maybe this is what our purpose is - to be able to offer stability to "wobbly" lives once again.  I don't know about you, but when God set my life right, giving me strength and stability to stand up under the pressures of life, I was delighted to be put to use for him.  Wobbly people need the tender hands of the master craftsman to give their lives a "re-purposing" - our part is to take those lives to the craftsman.  We "connect" the wobbly with the one who brings the ultimate stability - Christ.  Just sayin!