Friday, November 2, 2012

Enemies of the Ambassador

In the late 1500s, Queen Elizabeth of England and King Philip of Spain were involved in an undeclared war.  In these days before telecommunication, they tried to communicate with each other through their respective ambassadors.  At one point Philip sent Bernardino de Mendoza to England, but he was caught spying on the side, and plotting to kill the queen.  Elizabeth then sent William Wade to Spain to explain why she had expelled Mendoza, but King Philip wouldn't see Wade, and ran him out of Spain claiming he was fortunate not to be killed.  This is the way things worked. 

I tell you this to help you understand our relationship with God, so stick with me.  England and Spain had issues, mostly religious and personal between their king and queen.  But for the ambassadors, it wasn't personal (or shouldn't have been).  Phil wanted to kill Liz, not her ambassador.  Under other circumstances, those two men may have been just Phil and Bill, two guys having a beer together and hanging out.  But in this case no one cared to think of William Wade as Bill, and no one cared what kind of marriage he had, or where he went to school or what NBA team he loved.  He wasn’t even himself – he was just almost a robot under the control of the queen.  Her servant, sent on a mission.  It was the same with Mendoza.  No one in England would have called him “Bernie” and would care about his personal issues, his family or friends or favorite food.  He was 100% the representative of King Phil.
Recently the USA had an ambassador killed in Libya, and again … it wasn't personal.  They didn’t really care about him, they killed him because they hate the USA.  His family and friends will remember him as Chris, but the world will remember that he was the main victim in a terrorist plot to hurt the US. 

We know one another personally, and may like or dislike each other.  But here’s the thing you should remember: in this world, we are ambassadors.  We represent God and His son, Jesus.  Satan hurts us because we are God’s.  The world hates us because they belong to Satan, and are not in our kingdom (John 15.17-21).  But don’t take it personally – we aren’t disliked or ignored or mistreated for the reasons people will say.  They don’t even know themselves that they are in bondage to evil!  They are blinded by it, and misdirected. 

Our passage (Romans 12.14-21) from Sunday – and for this coming Sunday – has lots of supporting scriptures that further explain and affirm Paul’s words.  Please understand that we are supposed to bless those who persecute us, not because we like it – or because we want to suffer, or because God is unkind.  We do so because it’s just not about us.  It’s about the One who sent us – the one we represent. 

Study this passage, try to understand it, pray for understanding, try to apply it for real … and be ready for Sunday to discuss:

2 Corinthians 5.16 – 6.10
Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh….  
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.  

Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

Therefore, we’re ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain— for He says,
“At the acceptable time I listened to you, and on the day of salvation I helped you.”
Behold, now is “the acceptable time,” behold, now is “the day of salvation”—
giving no cause for offense in anything, so that the ministry won’t be discredited,
but in everything commending ourselves as servants of God:
in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses, in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger, in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love, in the word of truth, in the power of God;
by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left, by glory and dishonor, by evil report and good report;
regarded as deceivers and yet true; as unknown yet well-known,
as dying yet behold, we live; as punished yet not put to death, as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich,
as having nothing yet possessing all things. 

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