What is an ambassador?
Encyclopedia Britannica (https://www.britannica.com/topic/ambassador) reports that “at the Congress of Vienna in 1815, ambassadors were one of the four classes of diplomatic agents who were formally defined and recognized. Ambassadors were deemed to represent the person and dignity of the sovereign (or head of state) and were entitled to personal access to the sovereign to whom they were accredited.” The article goes on to define an ambassador as the “highest rank of diplomatic representative sent by one national government to another.”
Encyclopedia Britannica further states that, “An ambassador’s personality and prestige may play an important part in making the views of his government understood, and his firsthand knowledge of the country to which he is accredited may enable him to influence his government’s policy decisively.”
The National Museum of American Diplomacy, located at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., declares that, “An ambassador is the President’s highest-ranking representative to a specific nation or international organization abroad. An effective ambassador has to be a strong leader—a good manager, a resilient negotiator, and a respected representative of the United States.” (https://diplomacy.state.gov/diplomacy/what-are-the-roles-of-a-diplomat/)
Benjamin Franklin, this nation’s first ambassador to France quipped, “The qualities of a diplomat are sleepless tact, unmovable calmness, and a patience that no folly, no provocation, no blunders may shake.”
Paul, writing to the Corinthians, described himself and his fellow workers as ambassadors for Christ. Later in life he wrote to the Ephesians from his prison cell in Rome and labeled himself (Ephesians 6:20) as an “ambassador in chains.”
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.2 Corinthians 5:20 NASB
Have we considered that one reason God leaves us on earth after our conversion is to represent Him and His kingdom to a lost world? We are His ambassadors, and the questions which arise from that recognition stagger our minds.
- Am I up to the challenge?
- I’m not perfect. Can I still serve in that role?
- I have let the King down. Will He fire me now?
- Where can I get training to do the job well?
- How will I be evaluated?
- What resources are available to help me represent the King effectively?
We will not answer all these questions, but we will hopefully trigger deeper thoughts around the role of ambassador and how we might best perform our commission. Consider that:
The ambassador represents not himself but his Leader and the Leader’s kingdom. That implies a willingness to assume a servant’s role.
The ambassador’s words and actions are governed by his realization that they will reflect on the Sovereign. He is in effect speaking and acting in the place of his King and should strive to make his message align with that of his Sovereign.
The ambassador adopts the King’s agenda as his own and works to achieve the goals established by his Boss. Subterfuge and self-promotion are never the driving force behind the ambassador’s work.
Because the ambassador serves as a pilgrim in foreign territory he strives to lead a lifestyle that is beyond reproach. He understands that any impropriety will garble his message and reflect undesirably on his King. Bad behavior on the part of the ambassador might give rise to a negative image of the kingdom and stall further progress on the King’s agenda.
The ambassador’s interactions with locals must be marked by respect and an awareness of their customs. His intention is to serve without giving offense. Note that this mindset does not imply acceptance of those customs nor is the ambassador required to adopt them personally.
The ambassador does not abuse the concept of “diplomatic immunity” and strives to comply with local laws out of respect and a desire to win an audience.
Often the ambassador operates from a self-directed schedule and must drive himself to do the job as his Boss expects. Oversight and accountability are present, but the distance between the post and the homeland might reduce the sense of urgency and lull the careless ambassador into a state of complacency.
Service as an ambassador may include hardship and stress. He may not be popular or accepted. He might face hostility. He may struggle with relational damage left by ambassadors who preceded him.
We’ll stop there, but I’d love to expand this list. What have I missed? What other attributes of the role of ambassador of Christ do you see?