We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. (2 Corinthians 5:20, NIV)
God has given us a job to do, and we need to understand the job description before we can do that job well. Teachers teach, runners run and artists create art, but what do ambassadors do? According to Wikipedia, “An ambassador is the highest ranking diplomat who represents a nation.” He or she has authority to represent their head of state and their own country.
In other words, an ambassador stands in the place of the ones he represents, since all the people cannot be there to represent themselves. When meetings occur with foreign nations, it is the ambassador who has been chosen as the single person with the authority to speak for his country. He must be careful about what he says, but firm in his resolve to represent the will of his people.
The role of ambassador is a very distinguished one, and an ambassador must be completely up-to-date on all issues involving his country. “They have to have a full grasp on what the best interests of the country are, and what their goals should be when engaging in discussion with ambassadors from other countries.”
“The word is also often used more liberally for persons who are known…to represent certain professions, activities and fields of endeavor.” In other words, ambassadors represent someone else as purposefully and accurately as possible, just like a political ambassador. An ambassador’s personal feelings about an issue should never impact the way he/she responds to a situation. In everything they are to speak for the one or ones they represent.
The biblical definition of ambassador, at least in the verse we are studying, includes all the aspects of a political ambassador, but is better understood when we look at an assortment of translations of 2 Corinthians 5:20:
~ New Century Version: “So we have been sent to speak for Christ.”
~ New International Reader’s Version: “So we are Christ’s official messengers.”
~ New Living Translation: “God is using us to speak.”
God is the one who appointed us as ambassadors. He wants us to accurately represent Him to the world around us, those outside His kingdom. What is the message He wants us to give to the world through us? The NIRV translation of 2 Corinthians 5:18 and 19 clearly provides the answer: “He brought us back to himself through Christ’s death on the cross. And he has given us the task of bringing others back to him through Christ. (God) has committed to us the message of reconciliation.”
Through us, God is calling out to the unbelieving world around us. He is urging all people to become reunited with Him through the work of His son, Jesus. We are to be the gospel in shoes, the visible proof of an invisible truth. God wants everyone to know He does exist, He does see us and He does care for us. In fact, He has offered to forgive all the wrong we have done and embrace us as His own children.
What an amazing privilege to speak on behalf of the God of the universe to those around us. What a great challenge this is, too! Like any other ambassador, we must never allow our shortcomings or wrong thinking impact the message of the One we represent. What we do reflects on Him. Here’s a simple example:
I drive a bright red PT Cruiser, which I love, and I tend to drive a bit faster than I really should. A year or so ago, our Pastor announced that the church was giving away magnets to display on our cars and help with advertising our little congregation. Of course, I picked one up on the way out of the service, and promptly placed it on my car.
Driving home, I realized I was inching a bit past the marked speed limit without really giving it much thought. Suddenly, in my mind’s eye, I saw the magnet on the back of my car with the glowing orange and blue sunset logo and the name “Grace Community Church.” My actions no longer related to me alone. Now everyone around me could see I represented my church and, by extension, my God. What a sobering thought. I certainly didn’t want to bring shame on either name.
That is the essence of this verse and our assigned task. As the “Message” version of the Bible puts it: “We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.”
The Holy Bible in the following versions:
New International Readers Version (NIRV)
New International Version (NIV)
New Century Version (NCV)
New Living Translation (NLT)
The Message (Msg)
All found at http://www.biblestudytools.com/