Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Thoughts On Our Ambassadorship

I was reading a book written by a former ambassador to Mozambique and Peru yesterday. The whole idea of ambassadorship enthralls me. We as Christians have the greatest responsibility to be ambassadors for our Lord Jesus Christ. Reading a book by an ambassador about ambassadorship just makes sense. Of course, you have to weigh everything you read about the way things are in this world. Remember Jesus’ words about greatness in the kingdom. He said it isn’t supposed to be, among his own disciples, as it is in the world. Just because things are the way they are isn’t necessarily the way they should be. Paul tells us that all of what we do in our lives prior to a relationship with Jesus Christ is patterned according to the course of the world. The way the world runs, so we run. Jesus introduces a totally new “course” for our lives, a course that he ordered before the foundation of the world. With all of that said, though, isn’t a book on ambassadorship by a former ambassador going to be a good read? I thought so.

Dennis Jett might not win a lot of favor for his refusal to mince words. He tells things like he sees them. And you don’t get a few sentences in before you catch the tone of his book American Ambassadors: The Past, Present, and Future of America’s Diplomats. Who is the perfect ambassador? What would such a person look like? Here are Jett’s opening words:
“On the face of it, the first ambassador for whom I worked seemed perfect for the job. If the director of a movie called up central casting and told them to send over actors to audition for a role as an ambassador, he would have been a shoo-in for the part. . . . costarring in movies . . . elected to Congress twice . . . governor of Connecticut. He came from a wealthy and illustrious lineage—his family included a senator, an admiral, and another ambassador. They could trace their roots back to the pilgrims. Tall, handsome, and silver-haired, he was fluent in several languages. According to one expert on style, he was ‘one of the most polished gentlemen in America’ for more than half a century. He was also named ambassador three times by three different presidents. In referring to him, a journalist once wrote: ‘If the Unites States could be represented around the world the way it is represented in Argentina, it would be loved by the peoples of all nations.’”
Doesn’t that—“loved by the peoples of all nations”—sound like a good litmus test for being an ambassador? Whether Jett is right or wrong in his assessment that follows, I’m sure is debated. But he says,
“In reality, the ambassador was a disaster—and a dangerous one at that. Although he seemed to be the perfect diplomat, those who knew him better considered him, in effect, a threat to national security. The reasons for such a divergence of opinion is that there is more to being an ambassador than simply glitz and glamour.”
Jett goes on to make some really interesting statements about being an ambassador, which I'll summarize with some annotation below. I think some of these ought to have some bearing, one way or another, on how we view our own ambassadorship for Christ.
1. An ambassador is not faithful to his duties if he makes his primary duty entertaining those to whom he is sent. 
2. An ambassador should never measure his faithfulness by what those who receive him say about him. The only assessment of faithfulness that matters is what the one who sends him says about the job he is doing. 
3. Being surrounded by competent people does not qualify an ambassador. Being an ambassador is a personal, individual matter. With whom an ambassador is surrounded can enhance the ambassadorship, but it does not make the ambassador. 
4. We learn best of what is expected of us as ambassadors by watching someone else carry out the role. In a fallen world, we learn both from the good and the bad, the best and the worst. We ought to take notes at all times and make resolutions to be the opposite of the worst we see and the likeness of the best.
What, then, is the primary and sole task of an ambassador? My answer is this, “Go where you're told to go, say what you're told to say, and do what you're told to do. And—at all times, in all places, to all people—it should be, when people interact with you, that it is as if they are interacting with the one who sent you.

Jett has a pretty detailed narrative on how the biggest government in the world selects and sends its own ambassadors. If you’re interested, you’ll probably find it interesting. It’s the only book I know on the subject. It’s so different with Jesus. Everyone who is transferred out of the domain of darkness and placed into his kingdom is made an ambassador. I found it quite interesting that for the first hundred or so years of the United States, presidents did not appoint “ambassadors,” at least not by such titles. “Why? you ask. The States were shunning anything that looked monarchial. And the title “ambassador” was associated with kings and kingdoms. Well, we are ambassadors. And there is a king who we represent. His name is Jesus.

Paul says this in 2 Corinthians 5:
“Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and he has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ. As his ambassadors, it is as if God were making an appeal through us. Here’s the appeal: We beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. And here’s the message that reconciles you to God: God the Father treated his Son Jesus Christ as if he had committed every single sin in the history of the world, even though he never committed a single sin. And God the Father did that so that he could treat those of us who believe in his Son as if we had never committed a single sin, even though we had committed them all.”
Ambassadors, you don’t need the glitz. You don’t need the glamour. All it takes to be the ambassador Jesus expects is obedience and faith. You might not have the pedigree that wows the world. But you have the message that bridges the greatest chasm between heaven and earth, God and man. What will you do with your ambassadorship? What will you do with the message you yourself believed and are now tasked to share with all peoples everywhere?

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