You are an ambassador.
That sounds fancy doesn’t it? If you’re like me, “ambassador” conjures up images of foreign diplomats or representatives from a far away kingdom. But, I don’t think that’s exactly what the apostle Paul had in mind when he wrote these words.
“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Cor. 5:20).
He repeated this same claim in Ephesians 6:20 by calling himself “an ambassador in chains.”
We represent Christ with every corner of our lives.
Paul’s point was that when we become a Christian, we also become a representative of Christ. Just like an ambassador represents his home country, we are representatives of who Christ is and what He is like to a world that does not know Him. You might have heard that described as being a “witness.” It simply means that who we are and how we live tells a story about Jesus.
I want to be the best ambassador of Christ possible. Don’t you? But it’s about more than just wearing a Christian t-shirt or going to church. We represent Christ with every corner of our lives. With that in mind, here are five mistakes I’ve made that have damaged my witness.
1. I Bail
I have plans with a friend, but I’m tired at the end of the day, so I send out this text . . . “I’m not feeling good. I’m just going to stay home tonight. Sorry.”
I have an article due (that’s like adult homework!), but I haven’t managed my time well and I’m not going to make my deadline. So I sent out an email with a long list of excuses and ask for more time.
I promised my sister I would help her move this weekend, but it’s been a long week and I’m exhausted. I call and ask if she really needs help, secretly hoping she will let me off the hook.
For many years I was a chronic bailer. I made plans, but if something came up, I bailed. I had a schedule, but when things got haywire, I threw it out the window, often dropping my commitments to others.
Then I read these words in Scripture,
“Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No;’ anything more than this comes from evil” (Matt. 5:37).
Jesus said these words when He was talking about making vows. His point is to simply say what we mean. If our answer is “yes,” let it be yes, not “yes, unless something else comes along.” If our answer is “no,” we should say that instead of agreeing to something and hoping for a loophole to get us out of our commitment.
Numbers 30:2 says it this way, “If a man vows a vow to the Lord, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word, He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.”
In other words, if we say we are going to do something, we do it. This applies to big and small stuff.
Could you be hurting your witness by chronically bailing? Here are some questions to help you think that through:
- Does your “yes” mean “yes” or “maybe” most of the time?
- Can people count on you to follow through with what you say you will do?
- How does it make you feel when people bail on you?
2. I’m Someone Else Online
Several years ago I traveled the country interviewing girls just like you for Lies Young Women Believe. I found many professing Christian girls who admitted to gossip, using mild to wild profanity, talking casually about things like sex and menstruation with guys, being mean to teens outside their peer group, and posting or looking at mild sexual photos online. These same girls admitted that they would never do these things in person. It seems the World Wide Web offered them a place to be someone they were not in person.
To be honest, this realization didn’t surprise me. I’ve struggled to be consistent in person and online too. In fact, because of this tendency I pulled the plug on Facebook years ago. You don’t have to pull the plug, but it is important to face that who you are online tells a story about your faith.
Even if we aren’t dabbling in things like sexting or profanity through texts and Facebook, there is a temptation to present ourselves online in a way that doesn’t represent who we really are and who Christ wants us to be. But God wants all of us to have a faith that is genuine and is lived out in every area of our lives and relationships.
James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners and purify your hearts, you double minded.”
According to James 1:8 a double-minded person is “unstable in all his ways.” If you (or I) claim to follow Christ while also catering to the world and your flesh, your whole world will become unstable.
Is it possible that your texts and social media profiles are hurting your witness? Here are some questions to help you think that through.
- Would you be okay with your mom or youth pastor seeing your text messages?
- Does your Facebook page represent Christ well?
- What can you do to be a better ambassador for Christ online?
3. I’m an Eeyore
You remember Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh don’t you? He’s the old gray donkey with the pink bow tie on his tail. Sure, Eeyore’s loveable, but he’s kind of a downer. His character is notably pessimistic and gloomy.
Eeyore wouldn’t make a very good ambassador for Christ.
First Peter 3:15 gives us this practical advice for how to be Christ’s ambassadors.
“But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.”
Being willing to tell others why we have hope makes us good ambassadors. But what if we don’t have any hope? What if we are walking around all mopey and sad and gloomy? Why would others want what we have?
Certainly, Christians get sad. And that’s okay! But we always have hope that God is preparing something better for us (John 14:2), that He will reclaim all things (Rom. 8:28), and that we mean the world to Him (Luke 12:6–7).
Are you hurting your witness by living like you don’t have hope? Here are some questions to help you think that through.
- In all circumstances, do I hope in Jesus?
- Do I tell others why Jesus gives me hope?
- Am I chronically pessimistic and gloomy?
4. I’m Not a Hard Worker
Did you know how you work tells a story about Jesus? It’s true!
Colossians 3:23 says this, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”
- When you are working on your math homework, you’re really working for the Lord.
- When you are babysitting your neighbors (or your brothers), you’re really working for the Lord.
- When you are waitressing, you are really working for the Lord.
- When you are cleaning your room (or thinking of reasons to not clean your room), you are really working (or not working) for the Lord.
Since all of our work is really for the Lord, when we are lazy, refuse to work, or do sloppy work, we aren’t being good ambassadors.
Does your approach to work hurt your witness? Here are some questions to help you think that through.
- Am I a hard worker?
- Do I try to represent Christ in everything I do?
5. I’m a Slasher
Have you ever had your tires slashed?
Someone comes along with a knife or screwdriver, slashes the tires and poof . . . all the air is gone. The tires are deflated, and your car is stuck in park.
I’ve never slashed a tire, but I’ve slashed plenty of people. My words are the knife.
- When they tell me their dreams and I explain why they’re unrealistic . . . slash.
- When I talk about someone behind their back . . . slash.
- When I roll my eyes . . . slash.
- When I nitpick . . . slash.
- When I look at my phone and put off the “I’ve got better things to do” . . . slash.
Jesus was never a slasher. He gave people His undivided attention. He spoke life-giving words. He welcomed interruptions. He filled people up instead of deflating them. I want to be like Jesus.
Ephesians 4:29 tells us how.
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
Do you hurt your witness by slashing people with your words? Here are some questions to help you think that through.
- Do you tear people down with your words?
- Are you intentional about being an encourager (building others up?)
- What is one thing you can do today to inflate/build up someone in your world?
I am an ambassador
Sometimes I wonder why God entrusted the life-changing, earth-shattering, hope-filled message of His Gospel to imperfect ambassadors like me. He certainly could have picked a better witness. I will not represent Christ perfectly, but then I remember that even those imperfections and mistakes tell a story about Jesus. He is a God who rescues sinners and turns them into ambassadors for the best news ever. He is a God who sees my mistakes and wants me on His team anyway. He is a God who weaves my little story into His cosmic story and then asks me to share that story with others.
I will not do it perfectly. Neither will you. Perfection isn’t the assignment. Living every moment for Christ is.
I am His ambassador.