In 1961, members of the United Nations adopted and ratified a treaty called the “Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations,” which sets forward specific rules and regulations on how a foreign country’s embassy is to function inside a host country. This is the document where, when your favorite TV show inevitably has its episode involving the difficulties of arresting an ambassador-gone-bad-guy, it gets all those tricky rules about “diplomatic immunity,” “inviolable premises,” and so on.
But (if you can believe it) the Vienna Convention actually did more than provide prime-time TV with an inexhaustible episode template. It also establishes the primary purposes of a diplomatic mission, the first of which being expressed in Article 3 as, “Representing the sending State in the receiving State.”
That’s probably not a surprising piece of information to you if you know anything about embassies. The job of an ambassador is—has always been—to represent his homeland in a foreign country. It’s a job description so old that even the apostle Paul used it some two thousand years ago when he wrote, “we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20).
Christians as ambassadors
Paul didn’t choose the word “ambassadors” out of a hat. He selected it to convey a very specific message: Just as an ambassador isn’t part of the country he resides in, neither are Christians part of the world theyreside in. Ambassadors are not indistinguishable from a crowd; they stand out. They are sent to represent something foreign—something not naturally occurring outside of their country. They are to embody the ideals, the culture, and the values of their homeland. If an ambassador assimilates into the culture around him, then he has failed as an ambassador, no longer representing the interests of the country that sent him, but rather the country around him.
So. What do people see when they see you? You claim to be a Christian. You claim to love God and keep His commandments. You claim to have dedicated your life to following in the footsteps of Christ. But when the world looks at you, do they see that?
Because, brothers and sisters, all too often that isn’t the case. All too often, when the world starts noticing how different we are, we decide we don’t want to be seen. An ambassador will talk differently, dress differently, go through life differently than those around him—and as Christians living in a world that rejects God, we are no exception.
Called to be different
In the very words of our Savior, “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).
God did not call you out of the world so that you could disguise yourself to look like it. He did not commit to you His way so that you could pretend to be on the same path as everyone around you. God called you to be an ambassador. He called you to be different. To stand out. To show a world reveling in Satan’s darkness what it means to be filled with the Creator’s light.
Back to my question. What do people see when they see you? Because the world will look at you and either see a stranger…or one of its own. And if the world isn’t seeing something in us that stands in bold contrast to the norm, then it isn’t seeing a Christian.
Becoming an ambassador
Make no mistake—the calling of God and the way of the world cannot coexist. To embrace one, we must reject the other; it is impossible to straddle the fence. But what do we do if we want to strengthen our standing as an ambassador for the Kingdom of God?
Paul has this to say on the subject: “do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2).
Do you want to be a better ambassador for God? Keep seeking Him. Study His Word. Learn and obey His commandments. Immerse yourself in the culture of the Kingdom. Make the core of your being the things of God—not the things of this world.
A difficult path
None of these actions are easy. They’re virtually impossible to master in an entire lifetime, much less overnight. But as Christians, we are ambassadors for a Kingdom whose ideals, culture and values are entirely foreign to the world around us—and if we intend to follow God, the world must be seeing the fruit of these actions in our lives.
“Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:10-11).
It’s a hard road ahead of us. We’re called to be different, and so often to be different in this world is to face persecution. And so we must face it, not compromising our values, not hiding our lights under a basket out of shame or fear, but keeping our eyes locked on and our feet moving toward the glorious Kingdom that waits for us at the end of our path, letting our lights shine as we draw closer to God.
We are Christians. We are followers of God. We are keepers of His commandments.
And until the Kingdom is established on this earth, we are its ambassadors.
Until next time,