Faith & Insight: A message the world needs to hear
University Christian Church posted a sign on their door that read, “Gone out of business. Didn’t know what our business was.”
Imagine walking up to the doors of the church and reading that message. Had church had lost its focus? This sign would be a mirror that reflected to the congregation. Perhaps the people of the church had become so distracted by the world around them that they lost track of their original purpose. It is a sad state when the church, or the people who make it up, become overly fixated on the world and lose track of their divine calling.
We read in 2 Corinthians 5:20 a description of the Christian identity and purpose. Paul writes, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” Paul includes the church in this mission when using the pronoun “We.”
Today it is the Christian who is the ambassador. The term describes a person or diplomat who is sent to a foreign country to speak for or represent another. In this sense, we are ambassadors of Christ sharing his message. This message is made clear in the previous verse. “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sin against them” (2 Corinthians 5:19). As ambassadors, of the ministry of reconciliation, we must stay committed to that message without getting distracted.
The term ambassador is used one other time by Paul. He refers to himself as an “ambassador in chains’ in Ephesians 6:20. In both cases, Paul is referencing the words he speaks in commitment to the gospel. They are not his own; God is making his appeal through him. The one difference between the two verses is the circumstance in which Paul found himself in. In one text, he is free. In the other, he is a prisoner. The world around him changed, or at least his circumstances did. However, his obligation to the ministry of reconciliation remained the same. This is true today as well. The world has changed, and it would be easy to become distracted by the rapid pace in which it does. Still, the change in cultural circumstances does not change the obligation the Christian has as an ambassador of the gospel.
The sad fact is that sometimes ambassadors become distracted by the world forgetting that they are only strangers in it. It is easy to lose sight of the goal by looking too much at worldly affairs. These things that distract may be noble in nature. They are good issues to stand for or against. There is no harm in caring about them. In fact, there are times in which advocating for God demands we address worldly issues. But we must not forget our business or allow our anger over worldly affairs to damage our witness. The gospel is the power of God to reconcile the world to Him. As ambassadors, we preach Christ in a world that is distinguished by sin. This is the message the world needs to hear. Are you focused on it?
Micheal Hurlbert is the pastor of Carson City’s First Christian Church.