Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church was written only about a year after 1 Corinthians. It seems that false teachers had infiltrated the group of young believers and some were questioning the authority of Paul’s teaching. Commentaries agree that this is an autobiographical letter in which Paul provides proof of his calling as a disciple of Christ and teaches believers the importance of serving God with a sincere heart. This letter was sent to defend against the claims made against him and to show believers the truth of the Gospel.
In 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 Paul teaches that being “in Christ” results in a person becoming a “new creation”! God has provided salvation and reconciliation for us through the sacrifice of His Son. We now have a new identity as a son or daughter of God. We also have a new responsibility to present to others that same offer of reconciliation with God. We are now representatives of God…ambassadors.
When I served as student pastor in the local church, I frequently reminded students, especially before an out-of-town trip, that we were representatives of our families, our church, and of Jesus Christ. Our behavior during any stops and while at our destination should be honoring to those three entities. I knew there would be times I would need to correct a student’s behavior during our trip, but, I believe that reminder was helpful to the students.
In truth, there have been times when I had to be reminded that my behavior should honor God. How I respond to frustrating situations or to people who have wronged me reflects positively or negatively on my relationship with Him. In 2 Corinthians 5:20, Paul reminds the Corinthian church that they were “ambassadors for Christ.” An ambassador can be described as someone who represents his/her government while living in a foreign country. The writer of Hebrews reveals that, even though our physical lives are spent here, “…this world is not our permanent home…” (Hebrews 13:14 NLT). As ambassadors, Paul continues, believers are to be agents of reconciliation. Our task is to show others by the way that we live that Jesus has changed our lives and to let them know that same reconciliation is available to them.
This passage reveals that salvation is much more than a decision we make to “become a Christian.” When someone surrenders their life to Jesus Christ, there is a significant change. Certainly, we don’t have a template to adhere to, but a Christian should be able to identify significant differences in their lives from before their salvation. One of those changes is a new identity and task. Now a child of God, believers are given the role of representing God to others. The task of this role is to tell others about the reconciliation to God that is available to them just as it was available to you. In labeling believers ambassadors for Christ, Paul is highlighting the fact that believers have a message to share! As a child of God, His representative, and being appointed as an ambassador, we are expected to behave in a way that honors God, serve others as Jesus modeled for us, and deliver the message of reconciliation to people.
Who has God placed in your life for you to share that message with? As ambassadors for Christ, it is imperative that we do more than just live an upright and moral life. Our behavior is extremely important and can, at times, cause people to ask about our choices and decisions. However, in order to be a clear representative, it is important that we verbalize the gift that Jesus offers to everyone and how they can receive that gift.
Brandon Lewis has served as student pastor in churches across Louisiana, as well as Texas and Mississippi. He and Lacey have three children, Karen, Gabriel, and Ryan. Brandon is currently serving as the youth ministry strategist for the Louisiana Baptist Convention. In this role, he has the privilege of planning and hosting state-wide events for teenagers (YEC, Clear Camps, etc.), coordinating training events for youth ministers and youth ministry leaders, and serving as a youth ministry consultant for churches across the state.