On Wednesday Nights, our church has a small Bible Study made up of folks of all ages and backgrounds. Most weeks we’ve been having 10-15 people show up and participate – it’s a really fun group of people. We’re currently working our way through the study book Christians At Our Best by Ed Stetzer, which is actually a condensed guide for a video study he produced based on his lengthier book Christians in the Age of Outrage.
The study is a look at how we, as followers of Christ, are called to respond differently than the world around us – especially when we find ourselves becoming upset at someone or something. Disciples of Jesus are supposed to behave in a way that imitates what Jesus did, which means we are not supposed to return anger with anger or hatred with hatred. This isn’t just a nice thought or a friendly suggestion for our good behavior, Paul tells us in no uncertain terms that it is our job…
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.2 Corinthians 5:18-20
Paul, speaking about a sinful humanity (which includes you, and me, and the jerk who works in the office next to you, and the crazy maniac who cut you off in traffic this morning, and the apathetic cashier at the grocery store who couldn’t bother to put the cell phone down while you were checking out last night, and the idiot who kept screaming at the referee at your kid’s soccer match last week, and on and on…), says that God sent Jesus to reconcile the world to himself so that he would not “count their trespasses against them.” Isn’t that amazing? Isn’t that crazy? Isn’t that the way that we – followers of Jesus – are supposed to act too?
Paul goes on to say that we – everyone who is in Christ Jesus – are ambassadors for Christ, and God is making his appeal to a lost and broken and sinful and hurting world THROUGH US! We don’t get to just sit on the sidelines and let someone else do the job. It is our job! We will either do it well, or we will do it poorly.
Some day I suspect we will each be having a little one-on-one chat with Jesus about how we did with our job. I can imagine him asking me about times when I was a really poor ambassador – when my actions and attitudes may have actually driven others farther from God, instead of building bridges to help them draw nearer to him.
God deeply loves the people of this world, and he longs for them to turn towards him. He’s entrusted me, and you, and all who wear the name of Jesus, to help make that happen. I don’t think the “excuses” that I will offer up for why I have often failed to do that job will sound very convincing when I’m face-to-face with Jesus. I know that God loves me, forgives me, and does not want me to carry a burden of shame over the times I have failed to be a good ambassador to those in need of his forgiveness and mercy and grace, and I believe that for you as well. But what if we decide today to draw a line in the sand, so to speak, and make a conscious decision – a commitment – that no matter who is frustrating us or annoying us or challenging us, we will be worthy ambassadors.
We are on his mission. We are in enemy territory. We have a job to do. No excuses.