A cross-cultural Christian worker is an ambassador of Christ, representing the King in a foreign land! There are times when Paul uses the actual word for ambassador (presbeutis), but even Paul’s use of the word apostle (apostolos) implies an ambassadorial role, argues Jewett:
“Paul’s understanding of himself as ‘apostle’ is closely related to the Greco-Roman world’s understanding of ‘ambassador.’ In fact, there are examples in which the term apostolos is used in the specific role of a political ambassador as well as a special messenger of a king.”
If you are bearing witness to Christ as a sent one, you are an ambassador!
1.Ambassadors live away from home and represent their king!
Not just your preaching but your life, your work, your family, your temper – in all of these you are making the Invisible One visible, the Transcendent One present, the Heavenly One earthy. Merely the presence of an embassy on a tiny island validates that island, dignifies it somehow. Your presence in your city shows that God has not forgotten them, that he has opened a conversation!
2. Ambassadors are God’s voice.
When the ambassador speaks, the king speaks.
2Corinthians 5:20 Therefore, we are ambassadors (presbeuomen) for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
“We are ambassadors” here is a verb; “we are doing ambassadoring.” As we do this, God also is speaking. When you preach, God is appealing to your hearers. You are God’s voice in that nation!
3. Ambassadors have authority to negotiate.
Ambassadors have diplomatic flexibility. It would be pointless for Israeli and Palestinian representatives to be in the room together unless they had genuine authority to dialogue, to concede, to negotiate. Paul understood this too. He was so confident in the gospel that he was free in his authority to contextualize to different situations: I will circumcise Timothy but not Titus. To the Jews I become a Jew, to the Gentiles I become a Gentile. There’s no point having an ambassador unless they have both genuine authority to dispense grace, “whoever you forgive will be forgiven,” and genuine freedom to contextualize.
4. Ambassadors use appeal more than force.
Philemon 1:8-9 Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal (parakalao) to you—I, Paul, an old man and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus—
Bjerkelund has argued that parakalao was a diplomatic term in the ancient world.
“What is interesting about these letters is that parakalao (I exhort) appears in a carefully nurtured diplomatic style that remained unchanged through centuries… It must be presupposed that it was known in the cities and territories through which Paul journeyed. It is very probable that Paul himself was well acquainted with this usage.”
5. Ambassadors keep a direct line home to the King.
Keep praying, friends! Stay up-to-date with heaven. Keep on receiving fresh instructions from Him who sent you. Maintain a humble stance towards His authority. We are believing that one day every knee will bow, but let’s make sure that our own knees remain bowed, in worship, in submission, in obedience, in prayer. To Win Some!