|In this photo from 2011, then U.S. envoy Chris Stevens attends a meeting in Libya. Libyan officials say Stevens and three other Americans have been killed in an attack. (AP Photo)|
Sounds like the man we lost is the kind of person we want representing our country. Proficient in the language, out among the people, building relationships, taking risks so folks can be free.
With that word plastered all over the headlines today, I keep thinking - I'm one, too. Just like every one of us who belongs to Jesus. It's right there in black-and-white in the Bible: "We are Christ's ambassadors" (2 Corinthians 5:20).
Today's news is a vivid reminder of exactly what that title means. An ambassador is appointed by the highest authority there is (in this case, the President of the United States) to represent him in a specific place. Sometimes requiring risks - and yes, sacrifice.
So, along with all my spiritual brothers and sisters, I've been assigned by the highest Authority in the universe to represent Him wherever He places me. That makes the Jesus-follower the most important person in the room, whether anyone recognizes it or not. Because he or she is representing Heaven.
That means I must act like Jesus, respond like Jesus, no matter what my circumstances or treatment. No excuses for losing my temper, being harsh, compromising my integrity, acting selfish, flirting with sin, being too busy for people who need me. Because He has staked His reputation on His ambassador. He literally says I am where He's put me "on Christ's behalf" (2 Corinthians 5:20).
I can't stay cloistered in the "embassy," i.e., the church. I have to do what my Master did - go outside the walls to meet people where they are. Ambassadors succeed or fail depending on how well they build relationships with the people where they're assigned. No true Jesus-ambassador can be content just to hang out with those from their spiritual "country." We've got to be intentional, even passionate, about building authentic relationships with the people who need our Jesus.
I need to remember, too, that an ambassador's job is to fully and accurately deliver the message of the one who sent him. For a Jesus-ambassador, that Message is clear: "Nothing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:2). Uncluttered by politics, church, religion, personal hobby-horses, culture issues, or lifestyle attacks. Just Jesus. And His cross. A Message so eternally important that it needs to be delivered, not in my churchy "Christianese," but in the non-religious language of the people I'm there to reach.
And, yes, there's risk involved. Just ask Jesus, the original and ultimate Ambassador of Heaven. He gave His life in exchange for mine. So I'm supposed to get off cheap? My fear of losing someone for eternity must trump my fear of whatever I may lose if I speak up for my Jesus.
I can't let the spinning gerbil wheel of an overstuffed life ever make me forget who I am - I'm on assignment from Heaven. To help people go there.