An ambassador is a representative from one country to another country’s government. It’s an important and difficult role I suspect, particularly in countries where we have different culture and value systems. We must also keep in mind that ambassadors don’t set policy or enact policies on their own. They’re a representative of the government but are not the government itself.
We are not ambassadors for Christ. There are groups that proclaim that we are ambassadors for Christ. There is an organization called ambassadors for Christ. Even the Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians that we’re ambassadors for Christ but he was writing to a church that was fighting with itself and needed to reconcile with one another.[audio http://www.buzzsprout.com/33052/251676-we-are-not-ambassadors-for-christ.mp3]
We are not ambassadors for Christ. We don’t represent Christ. We don’t hold negotiations on Christ’s behalf. We ARE Christ. To others. That’s a scary thought, isn’t it? Do you think of yourself that way? If you don’t, it is time to start.
You might be thinking, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, are you saying I’m Jesus Christ?” No, that isn’t what I said. I said we are to BE Christ. To others. Most of us push back on the idea but this evening’s story is something of a prophetic call and a roadmap, all wrapped into one.
What is your opinion of prophets? Likeable? Easy to get along with? Fun to be around? Seriously, what is your opinion or prophets from what you’ve heard and read about them?
What is your opinion of righteous people? Not self-righteous snobby people but people who are genuinely committed to their faith and live like they mean it. Likeable? Easy to get along with? Fun to be around?
What is your opinion of children? Yours or other people’s kids, depending on your situation. Likeable? Easy to get along with? Fun to be around?
It’s kind of interesting don’t you think, that Matthew refers to prophets who are important religious people, then righteous ones who are also important religious people and then… children. We might expect to hear Matthew refer to wise or holy people but instead we get the prophets, righteous and then… children. What are we to make of that?
Well, let’s think about this.
It is difficult to speak with the voice of a prophet, isn’t it? Prophets had a tendency to proclaim the kingdom of God and make everyone mad in the process and we don’t like that, particularly in the passive aggressive Midwest. Nebraska nice isn’t as nice as Minnesota nice but it’s still pretty nice and we want to keep it that way. So we shy away from such conversations. We might have to say something that makes someone mad. Or we might have to leave ourselves vulnerable to ridicule of we spoke openly about faith.
And prophets are certainly not diplomatic, are they? They wouldn’t make much of an ambassador, would they?
It is difficult to speak with the voice of a righteous person, isn’t it? Righteous people know all the right answers and very few of the rest of us think we know many of the answers and certainly not all of the right answers. Did you ever have those days where you weren’t sure if you knew ANY answers? And righteous people are certainly not diplomatic, are they? They wouldn’t make much of an ambassador, would they?
Perhaps then, we are to speak with the voice of a child.
Little kids will give you their honest opinion. Little kids will tell you the truth. Little kids will say unexpected things. Little kids speak from the heart. They haven’t yet learned to scheme and dream to further their own agenda. Not that they can’t be creative in their explanations sometimes but that isn’t the same as what adults learn to do on occasion. And little kids are certainly not diplomatic however cute they may be, are they? They wouldn’t make much of an ambassador, would they?
We are not ambassadors for Christ. But we are called to BE Christ. To others.
We have a tendency to get wound up about this issue and that issue. Can I be honest here? Some of the issues people get wound up about are just silly. I know the claim is the issues are important to them and that’s fine as far as it goes.
One of the troubles with getting wound up about non-issues or at least minor issues is that there is a serious lack of compromise and civil discourse. We point fingers at how Congress functions and that’s all well and good but the trouble is the way that the church can function sometimes. Too often church people get wound up about issue A or issue B and forget to BE Christ.
The bigger problem is that getting wound up about issues that really aren’t important serve to distract us from what really is important. In our focus on specific issues we want to make a stand about we forget the bigger picture. The bigger picture of loving God and loving our neighbor. The bigger picture of a loving God not a wrathful one. The bigger picture of being saved by grace through faith.
That’s the story the world needs to hear right now. The story the world needs to hear is the simple faith of a child. Faith that doesn’t serve an agenda but faith that comes from the heart and serves God.
We are not ambassadors for Christ. We are called to be Christ. To others.