Most people know that Benjamin Franklin played a major role in the founding of our nation. He was a statesman, author, publisher, inventor and diplomat. He was one of the five men who drafted the Declaration of Independence. In 1776 Franklin became the first U. S. ambassador to France, where he was instrumental in negotiating the Treaty of Paris, which officially ended the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783). It also resulted in universal recognition of the U. S. A. as an independent nation.
His energetic work made him a hero among his peers, and an example for others. When the American icon and author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, succeeded Franklin as Ambassador to France in 1785, he was asked, “Is it you who replace Dr. Franklin?” Jefferson replied, “No one can replace him, Sir; I am only his successor.”
Since then many people have successfully served as Ambassadors of the United States. It is noteworthy that the apostle Paul used this word: “Ambassador”—as a metaphor to challenge Christians—in their duty to serve Christ.
In 2 Corinthians 5, Paul stated that everyone who trusts in Christ as Savior “is a new creature” (verse 17). This new creature in Christ also has a new work—the “ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them” (verses 18-19).
Every Christian’s work is to seek to bring people to saving faith in Jesus Christ, thereby reconciling them to God. This ministry is to proclaim “the word of reconciliation” to the world. This “word” is the message of the gospel—that God saves people by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
Because believers are new creatures, with a new ministry of proclaiming the message of the gospel that God will save if people will believe—Paul wrote that God considers His messengers, “ambassadors for Christ” (verse 20).
WHAT is an ambassador? He or she is an accredited diplomat sent by his or her home country as its official representative to a foreign country. Ambassadors have five primary responsibilities:
ONE—Ambassadors are sent by their sovereign or nation to represent their country in a foreign land. Though living abroad, they characterize their homeland, its leaders, its values and native people.
So, the Christian ambassador lives on this earth, wherever God has placed him or her, treating this world as a foreign land while representing Jesus and Heaven’s values. Peter urged believers, “as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles” (1 Peter 2:11-12).
TWO—Ambassadors, though living abroad, maintain citizenship in their homeland. They may vote and possess the rights of every other citizen. Though residing for a time in a different country they are responsible to its obey its laws.
Every Christian is first and foremost, a citizen of Heaven—“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20). Heaven is our home country, and though we live, breathe and will die here—Heaven is our home.
THREE—Ambassadors are protected by the laws and power of their homeland sovereign. Though they live under the laws of their host country, they are also to act in accord with the laws of their homeland.
This is why the Bible commands Christ-followers to “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent my him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right” (1 Peter 2:13-14). Their leader offers protection, direction and guidance while they serve on their mission.
However, though they are under the laws of their host country, ambassadors are responsible to obey their home Sovereign, above all. So, when the earthly authority commanded the apostles to stop teaching in the name of Jesus, Peter said, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
FOUR—Ambassadors are directly accountable to their sovereign for their attitude, behavior and message. They have the right to speak on behalf of their sovereign, but only his words, at his direction, are authoritative.
Followers of Christ, living in this world, while citizens of heaven, are accountable to their Sovereign and Homeland, for their behavior—“Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that…they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:12). The Christian’s attitude and actions should reflect his spiritual homeland, not his physical residence. Our actions should mirror Heaven’s standards, not the world’s values. The Christian is to communicate the gospel—the message of heaven’s King. We are to speak His words.
FIVE—Ambassadors must instantly return to their homeland at the request of their sovereign. They should not become so infatuated with their host country that their allegiance to their homeland wanes. They must be ready to depart on a moment’s notice.
So it is with the Christian ambassador. At any time your Sovereign may call you home, or come for you. You must live ready to go. We must say with Paul, “I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand” (2 Timothy 4:6). Jesus said, “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me” (Revelation 22:12).
If you are a Christian—You ARE an ambassador for Christ!
What kind of ambassador are you?