Part 4 of 4
By Kevin Ross, President of Helping Hands Foreign Missions
In Parts 1, 2, and 3 of this series, we see God has a plan to redeem the world, and this plan is motivated out of a heart of love for every person from the beginning of time. To read Part 1, click here. To read Part 2, click here. To read Part 3, click here.
It seems that every time I travel somewhere, anywhere around the world, there is always someone that says, "Please say hello to my friend when you see them." Because of the nature of ministry, there is always someone who knows someone where I am going. This is a fun aspect of my calling. I enjoy getting to know people in other parts of our country or the world. When you have a common friend in a new place, it makes for easier conversation. As for our role as believers in the body of Christ, we have been asked to be representatives on behalf of the One who has saved us and called us. We have been called to take the life-changing message of the Gospel to every person we meet. As we have heard it said before, we are "Jesus with skin on" to the world. In 2 Corinthians 5:17-21, this calling has been revealed by the Apostle Paul. Our role and responsibility are now as an official representative of Jesus Christ. This passage addressed to the church at Corinth is perhaps the most clarifying to help believers understand their role from scriptures.
"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. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."
- 2 Corinthians 5:17-21
The general definition of an ambassador is "an accredited diplomat sent by a country as its official representative to a foreign country or a person who acts as a representative or promoter of a specified activity." Since we are now in the body of Christ, this makes us a friend of God and members of His family. Ephesians 2:19 teaches us that we are "no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God," and now, according to Philippians 3:20, "our citizenship is in heaven…." Now that we have new citizenship, Christ has made us official representatives of our Heavenly Father. We carry the greetings of the Savior to every person as we travel on our journey of life.
2 Corinthians outlines three primary responsibilities of an Ambassador of Christ. The first responsibility is the "Ministry of Reconciliation." God's plan is to redeem every man, woman, and child unto Himself. We commonly refer to this process as evangelism. Evangelism is simply sharing how the story of God intersects with our story and offering a compelling invitation to accept the gift of salvation. The gift of salvation is explained in the "Message of Reconciliation," which is the second part of our responsibility. We commonly refer to the message of reconciliation as the Gospel. It is the sharing of God's plan of reconciliation for me and you. The Gospel is not just evangelism; it also involves the discipleship process for a new believer. An often-overlooked aspect of the Gospel message is the importance of discipleship, challenging one another to live out the faith we have received. Ambassadors are to support other believers in learning and obeying the teachings of Christ.
Ambassadors live on mission and engage others in the call of mission. The final responsibility of an ambassador is sending out believers to carry the Gospel to the ends of the earth. The small book of 3 John supports this idea of a fellow believer sending other disciples out as ambassadors for Christ. The phrase "to send on one's way" occurs nine times in the New Testament, each time in a missionary context. The responsibility of sending is elevated by sending people out "in a manner worthy of God." When one is sent, it is a high calling, "For they went out for the sake of the Name." The person who is sent out and ministers in the name and for the sake of Jesus is a person who is worthy of financial support as they serve on the mission field. However, serving on the mission field is not of secondary importance to the ministry of sending; those who are senders are considered fellow workers with the truth.
"If we do not see ourselves as Ambassadors when God uses us to reach someone else, we will not see them as Ambassadors. We, then, are withholding ministry from them. We must see lost people as future Ambassadors to reach their own community."
- Troy Cooper
A modern update of the word or term "Ambassador" for those in the missionary community are the terms "Global Christian" or "World Christian." These terms help modern-day Christians understand their role as a believer in Christ. Missiologist Todd Ahrend of the Traveling Team has developed five habits of a World Christian, or as the Apostle Paul calls believers, Ambassadors. These habits are explained in greater detail in the book entitled, "Xplore, Discover God's Word, God's World, and God's Work."
Five Habits of a World Christian:
1. Going – One who is laboring to reach people of a significantly different culture than their own with the truth of Jesus. Most often, this is in a foreign or distant field.
2. Sending – People who leverage their career, money, skills, and influence to send and support others engaged in cross-cultural ministry. Giving sacrificially for Gospel advancement.
3. Welcoming – One who welcomes internationals into the culture by initiating relationships with them, showing hospitality, and sharing the love of Christ.
4. Praying – Praying to God on behalf of another person; taking up the cause and joining in the struggle of another by advocating for and pleading on their behalf.
5. Mobilizing – People who empower others with the global vision, passion, and strategy, helping them get personally connected to find their most strategic role in the Great Commission.
As a World Christian and Ambassador of Christ, we should strive to grow in all five of these habits. Personally, my goal is to be strong in all of these. However, it is natural to be stronger in one or two of these. My passion is to mobilize people to fulfill their purpose according to God's calling for their lives. In my role with Helping Hands Foreign Missions, I desire to provide team members and volunteers with authentic ministry opportunities around the world, specifically among people with the greatest physical and spiritual needs. I would welcome the opportunity to help you in your journey as an Ambassador for Christ. Please reach out to me for more information.
Read Part 1 - "God has a Plan"
Read Part 2 - "God Reveals His Plan"
Read Part 3 - "The Heart of the Master"