In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel.

Ephesians 6: 16-19

As Paul is closing this great letter to the churches that he has poured so much of himself into, he asks them to be praying for him in a very specific way. Paul wants to be bold in the manner with which he proclaims that great eternal mystery that is the gospel of Jesus Christ. At first glance, it does not seem as if Paul is asking for much, for he has been a very bold person for a great many years now. In fact, one might say that the Paul that we see and know from the bible was always bold. Even before Christ forced Himself into the trajectory of his life, no one would have mistaken the young man Paul for a shy and retiring personality. Yet, now, at this final juncture of his life, Paul wants to be held up by others before the Lord as he desires to be bold one last time. 

He seeks out boldness, not comfort or even salvation from his seemingly certain date with an executioner. Paul wants to live out his days by proclaiming life-saving and eternity-giving truths to anyone that he comes into contact with. He desires to do this even with the probability that his actions will hasten his own demise. These are not foolish or rash actions on the Apostle’s part; rather, he knows that speaking out regarding the only true path to salvation is exactly what God has called him to do. Additionally, it is why he has been placed where he is and with the people with whom he is in contact. All of Paul’s day to day life is the result of God’s plan and is an outworking of the Lord’s will. As Paul looks back over the years of his life and considers the places he has been, the people he has engaged with, and the adventures that he has known, I have no doubt that he can see God working in each twist and turn of the journey. Now he wants to finish it all with the words of the gospel of Christ upon his lips and the realization that he was bold to his last breath as his final earthly thought.

Paul was truly unique. God crafted him with a specific intent in mind, and the Lord used him to fulfill those purposes. Each of us is also specifically created by the Lord with intentional purpose and with a plan in place for the ways that we will serve Christ with our lives. Regardless of where we are in our journey through life, whether just starting out or rounding that final turn, Paul’s request for boldness in proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ is fitting and appropriate for each of us. None of us will have Paul’s skill, Spirit directed inspiration, and capability to write out explanations of the gospel for the world to read and consider. A few will be gifted with the ability to preach and to speak of these truths before groups and crowds, and all of us are called into lives of service to Christ and within His kingdom. Each of us can be bold in the way that we conduct our days. That is, we can love without reservation, seek justice for all, care about the needs of those that are powerless, and provide the comfort of grace and hope when life has overwhelmed people. We are to live righteously when our culture implores us to do otherwise, and we can bring the glory of the face of Christ into the dark corners of our world so that eternity touches the wounds of the day with its healing balm of grace, love, and mercy. In short, we can enter into the fulfillment of Paul’s final request and live out the gospel of Christ as our bold proclamation of its wonderous and mysterious truth.  

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: 20

This is the job title that everyone that follows Christ is given. We are the Lord’s ambassadors. He sends us out into foreign lands and commissions us to represent the Kingdom of God in all of our interactions with the inhabitants of those places. This is similar to what an official representative of a government is charged with in being sent to operate in a country other than that person’s native one, but there are certain important differences. Christ’s ambassadors may serve anywhere in the world, and our office is frequently found in our own front yard or at a table in local café. The diplomacy that we practice does not have a direct impact upon international trade agreements and seldom leads to the resolution of tensions that involve armies and the potential for large-scale violent engagements. Yet, the work that we undertake can be even more significant than that, for it contemplates the eternal destinies of souls.

As an ambassador that is sent out from a nation sets aside the rest of life and goes where dispatched by its leaders, so too, are we called upon by Christ to leave behind our concerns, fears, and issues of distrust and discomfort in order to engage with people who do not know Christ in a close and personal manner. We are to go to them with the message of Christ’s gospel of reconciliation, and we are to do this without regard for the potentially hostile attitudes of those to whom we are sent. We might be rejected and our message may even be ridiculed, but that is no loss to us, for Christ sends us out in the full confidence of our faith to speak truth into the lives of people that are lost and that need to know the loving grace that Christ desires to pour out upon them. The message that we are given to proclaim is one of peace between God and people, and it is the story of how any and all of us are brought into full and unfettered relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

This is a message of hope, of love, and of reconciliation. These truths are best conveyed as they are demonstrated through engagement with others, and this direct engagement aspect of the role of ambassador is both the most effective and the most dangerous one. The danger is found in the risk of rejection, ridicule, and even of attacks of various kinds and types. Yet, those are small concerns when it comes to representing Christ in the world, and they are mere wisps of shadows as compared to the sacrifice that the Lord made for us and for the people that we are sent to on His behalf. This calling to the role of ambassador is a holy one, and it is not for the weak of spirit or of heart and mind. However, in Christ, we are all conquerors over the world; so, our concerns, fears, and reluctance can be overcome by the presence of the Spirit with us in all that we do and everyplace that we travel in this world. As ambassadors for Christ we serve the Risen King, and we can go into every corner of our world with our heads held high confidently proclaiming God’s sovereignty, grace, love, and desire for reconciliation with all that reside there.   

For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.

1 Thessalonians 1: 4, 5

 

If you thought that the last commission-based salesperson that you encountered was persistent, you have seen nothing until you consider the way that God goes after people. The Lord does not stop appealing to us until breath stops flowing into our lungs. He wants to close the deal with each of us before that final day comes, and He would prefer for it to happen much sooner than that. God’s motivation in seeking after people is very different too. He wants to be in a relationship with people in a manner that is deep, personal, and transformative for each of us. Christ also desires to work with and through us to bring love, truth, and peace into our world.

 

So, Christ’s tools of persuasion are powerful and compelling. He sends people who know Him out into the unknown of this world to care about the lives of other people and to share the profound importance of entering into a relationship with Christ with the people who they encounter. Yet, God does not just send people with words of unsupported personal experience, He also goes along in this journey of faith in the personal presence of the Holy Spirit within each of Christ’s people and by way of the Spirit’s own testimony to the truth of the gospel message of salvation and transformed lives by and through Christ. All of this presents a powerful expression of the relentless love that God pours out upon the people who populate His Creation.

 

Christ wants to know each of us, and He also desires that we would know Him very well. As we do come into that ever deepening form of knowledge and understanding of the Lord and of His heart, we will become ever more fully aware of His desire for each of us to be people who share the love of Christ with others. The Lord sends us all out into the numerous places in our world where He is not known, and He commissions us to live out and to speak forth His gospel message of salvation in those places and to the people that we encounter there. This desire to share the truth of the salvation from sin and the transformation that Christ is working within us is fueled and driven by the conviction of our hearts and minds that life and freedom are found in a relationship with Christ. This is the message that the Spirit within implores each of us to carry with us throughout the days to come.

 

 

And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, He has now reconciled in His body of flesh by His death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before Him.

Colossians 1: 21, 22

 

Anger, frustration, and distance; these are among the cold, hard realities of living in this world; also, these are the attitudes, even more so, these are the mind and the heart sets of many of the people in our lives. Life becomes so dark and so painful. The walls of isolation are built very high, and we construct them mightily thick because there is so much about life that can hurt us. I admit that there are days when the simplest and perhaps the sanest answer to dealing with all of this relational pain and the struggles of living with so many hurt and hurting people seems to be to just lock the door, pull down the blinds, and go back to bed. God tells us a different answer. He sees things from a much higher view than I do. He says that the root issue is the one of allegiance; that is, who are we serving, and who our master is. Once we know Jesus as our Savior and Lord, we are changed. The open anger and hostility that was our default mind set before is transformed into the one that God intended for us to have from Creation.

 

Jesus died for us. He paid a price so that we can look God squarely in the face and have no fear of how He will respond to us. Now we can get out of bed and face a new day knowing that our Creator sees us as His beautiful children; now we can confidently know that we can safely walk out from behind the walls that we have constructed. We have the ability to expose our true faces to God and to those around us. Now we can act boldly and live freely in the center of this world that is filled with decay and fear, and we can be assured that Christ is with us in every moment and for every step of this journey.

 

Although it is very important for us to understand and to accept the truth of our blamelessness before God, it is more important for us to go out into a world that is still hostile and still separated from the true love that is found only through Jesus so that the face of Christ is what people will see when we enter into their lives. Knowing that we can look God squarely in the face and that he will look back at us with a loving smile should make us strong, and this knowledge will make us desire to show our confident, well loved heart to the people that we meet. Christ will provide the opportunities to live openly as His beloved child. We need to listen to His voice and walk joyously into the lives that He brings our way.