Written Word

Evangelism – Part 8: Ambassadors for Christ

We are called ambassadors for Christ. These words are found in the context of evangelism: “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors,” Paul says, “as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20).

An ambassador speaks on behalf of his country. He is expected to be a person of integrity and honour who carries out his duties with distinction. He is not at liberty to change his country’s policies, or present them in a more favourable light. He must represent his government, not himself; his behaviour must never bring discredit upon his country. We can see then why Paul saw the role of an ambassador a fitting comparison to our roll as Christians. We are Christ’s ambassadors. We represent him and carry out his orders for “He has committed to us [his ambassadors] the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19). Our mission is to tell others about God, about his son Jesus, about sin, about Jesus’ atoning death, and about reconciliation. This is our assignment, and none of it can be altered, otherwise we cease functioning as ambassadors of Christ. We no longer faithfully represent him.

I’m well aware of how difficult our assignment is and how frustrating it can be on occasions: so much effort and so few conversions. Often our message is not accepted among the people to whom we have been sent. We try hard to represent God, but see few conversions. Efforts to spread the gospel – by word of mouth, through the written word, or via radio and television – do not bring the harvest of souls we long for. Seed sown in abundance produces no apparent harvest. Prayers offered for the salvation of nations are seldom answered as we had hoped. And we are left asking why? To discover the answer we need to have a realistic understanding of the world in which we must be Christ’s ambassadors. What do we know about people? An ambassador is briefed about his assignment before ever taking up his post. We, too, need to be briefed.

There is a fundamental truth about the people we work among that must be understand – man is a fallen sinner. But what does that mean? Through Adam sin was introduced into the world with devastating consequences. We, his descendants, bear all the marks of fallen creatures. We have a strong leaning towards sin. This is true of every human being, without exception. Just look around the world today and you will find confirmation of this. Ask some questions: Why is there war, injustice, cruelty, global starvation, and crime? Why are the lives of so many being destroyed by drugs and alcohol and millions of unborn babies being aborted each year? Why are so few seeking God? The questions could be multiplied but the answer would be the same – because man is a sinner and behaves in a manner contrary to the will of God.

This is not a modern problem; it has been with us since the fall of man. We see examples throughout the Bible. Before God destroyed the world with a flood, he inspected the heart of man: “The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time” (Genesis 6:5). And after the flood God said of man, “[E]very inclination of his heart is evil from childhood” (Genesis 8:21). The prophet Jeremiah said, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). We even see evil at work in the hearts of those who witnessed the miracles of Jesus. They remained in their state of unbelief, not because the evidence was not compelling, but because they were dishonest. They attributed demonic power to Jesus in their attempt to explain how he was casting out demons (Mark 3:20-30).

This kind of dishonesty is still with us. Personally I cannot recall having a serious discussion with anyone about the gospel who offered any credible evidence refuting it, yet they never came to believe in Jesus. Why couldn’t Jesus convert everyone? Was his approach wrong? Or were people’s hearts evil? The answer is obvious. Because the work we do is difficult we must remind ourselves daily of the assignment given to us by the Lord. We must stay focused. We are engaged in carrying out God’s work and fruit for our labour is not guaranteed, but the reward for faithfulness is. Our assignment is to spread the gospel by representing God to people, telling them of his love and inviting them to accept the redemption freely offered in the Lord Jesus Christ. When we proclaim the gospel then we are being ambassadors for Christ.