Citizens & Ambassadors
A Foreigner In a Foreign Land
I'll never forget the summer I spent ministering in a little Polish city with four other American women. We were there to support the local Polish church of believers and pray over towns in Poland. Plain and simple. Three of us were learning from the other two women what it was like to be an American missionary in a foreign country such as Poland. We didn't know the language. We didn't know the culture or the customs. We just loved Jesus and wanted to learn. Learn we did.
I'll never forget that summer. It was the first time I became acutely aware of the fact that I was an American and that I was a citizen of a different country. That might sound odd for a missionary survey trip, but one of the hardest things that I learned while in Poland is that I did not automatically fit in. I laughed louder than Polish people. I'm taller than most Polish people, which is saying something since I'm considered short in America. My features even give me away. I would be shopping for groceries with my teammates, and the cashier would ask if we were Hungarian, because we didn't look Polish, and the only logical conclusion was that we were from Hungary.
I spent six weeks being an ambassador for the United States while engaging in ministry.
It was the same summer that the plane crashed near Kiev, and people suspected that Russia was behind it. As an America, I was often asked what Americans thought of the tensions between Russia and Ukraine.
High schoolers would ask my teammates and I if we ever saw celebrities walking down the street. We would be asked about American customs and how birthdays are traditionally celebrated. What are weddings like?
I loved being asked these questions, but I particularly loved when the people we were meeting would ask us about our faith in Jesus.
I learned that summer that being a follower of Christ is like being an ambassador in a foreign nation. We have been sent to go and to share.
I've been reading the book of Luke in my devotional time with the Lord in the morning. This morning, I was struck while reading Luke 10, in which Jesus sends out seventy two men that he appointed. They are to go before him to every town and place where Jesus would soon go. He tells them:
The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ (Luke 10:2-11)
Jesus sent them out as ambassadors for his coming kingdom. He had them go to people and to see who would receive them. They were told to heal the sick and to tell them about the kingdom of God. Jesus didn't just call the seventy two to this ministry. He later called the disciples to be his witnesses (Acts 1:8). Now he calls us to do likewise.
If we believe in Christ, we have been reconciled to God and made a part of his kingdom. We are kingdom citizens that have been given a mission:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 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. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
(2 Corinthians 5:17-20)
This is from the second of two letters that Paul wrote to the church in Corinth. Paul understood that God had sent him and Timothy as ambassadors to the Corinthian church, to implore them to be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. Just as Paul and Timothy went to Corinth and to other cities as ambassadors for Christ, we are called to go to others as citizens of the kingdom and ambassadors as well.
An Ambassador In Our Own Country
You don't need to go to a foreign country to be an ambassador for Christ though. We can live our lives as kingdom citizens and ambassadors in our home town. We carry the kingdom with us, in our hearts, if we are followers of Christ. Which means that every time I go to the grocery store, I am an ambassador for God's kingdom. Every time I go to Starbucks, or the coffee shop down main street, or the restaurant down the road, I am an ambassador for the kingdom. But what does it look like to be an ambassador for God's kingdom?
We'll dive a little deeper tomorrow.
This post is part of a 31 day series called Seeking the Kingdom.
You can view the rest of the posts from the series here.
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