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AWOL Ambassadors? Part 1


By, Reid S. Monaghan

One of my favorite passages in Scripture comes at the close of the fifth chapter of 2 Corinthians.  It highlights both God’s transformative work in our lives and his missional calling on us in the world.

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

I have always found it a bit amazing that God chooses to transform rebellious, sinful and wayward people into new creations who he then calls to be his ambassadors. An ambassador is one who both represents for a kingdom or nation and carries the message of that realm to others.  As Jesus’ church we represent the Kingdom of God while living among the kingdoms of this world and we bring the saving gospel message to those around. That message is that God forgives sin, removes guilt, turns away wrath, frees us from his just condemnation, makes us clean and makes us part of his family. This is all through the work of Jesus on the cross.  God saves us from sin, death and hell and creates a new community out of such people.  In light of our calling and message, I find it puzzling that Jesus’ followers can sometimes be AWOL from this mission. The following are seven simple ways I think we can become AWOL Ambassadors.

We Won’t Leave Our Own Country

First, if we won’t leave our comforts to go to others we will be AWOL Ambassadors. We can like it too much at home, where we think it is safe, where we don’t have to leave our preferences, our comforts and actually be among people who are different from us.  We like our world where everyone looks the same, talks the same and is easy to be with.  We would rather stay here than go there for the sake of the gospel. AWOL.

We Don’t Like Other People

Second, if we don’t love other people we will remain AWOL from our calling.  After all, “they” have different beliefs, opinions, and habits than we do.  “They” might offend my sensibilities and their lives are messy; I really do not want to love them. In fact, I pretty much don’t like those folk.  If we become involved with those outside of the church they might inconvenience us and mess up our world.  Thank God Jesus did not think this way or he would have never taken on flesh, walked among us and died for us.

We Bring the Wrong Message

Third, if an ambassador brings the wrong message, she will be AWOL from her duty.  So many people are hearing a message from the church that is not the message of the Bible. Our message is convoluted by our actions: God doesn’t like people, neither do we. We want to take over the government. This is what some people “hear” from the church today in America. Is that really our message? Or others teach that God is open-minded, tolerant and doesn’t care about sin and evil doing. Is this really our message? Our message is that God is holy and is the righteous judge of sin and sinners AND he saves them by his grace through the work of Jesus on the cross.  Are we bringing the wrong message? If so, we are AWOL in our ambassadorship delivering the messages of men as if they were the message of God.

We Represent the Wrong Kingdom

Fourth, an ambassador for Jesus represents his Kingdom not the Kingdom of George Bush or Barak Obama.  Christians can become AWOL when they represent for party politics as if that was the Kingdom of Jesus. I am not saying that our message and allegiance to Jesus will not have implications for our political philosophies and involvement. I am saying that an Ambassador who thinks Jesus would only vote Republican or Democratic or Libertarian or Green or whatever is already AWOL.  Remember what our King said to us “My Kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18:33-38)