My fear at this point, after reading several of my emails, is that you’re concerned I’m going to go all crazy on you. Maybe you think I’m going to ask you to put on a rainbow-colored wig and hold up John 3:16 posters at your local high school football game. (I might do that, but only because I think it would be hysterical to play that kind of practical joke on you.)
No, I believe the key to understanding how God might want you to go about reconciling friends and family members to Himself is found in Paul’s use of the term ambassador (2 Cor. 5:20).
Ambassadors in Paul’s time were people sent to foreign countries to speak on behalf of their king. Their responsibilities were identical to what they are today:
- Move to a foreign country.
- Learn the language.
- Respect the people and culture.
- Don’t say or do anything that reﬂects poorly on the king.
- Communicate the king’s message to foreign dignitaries.
- Press for a decision.
- Don’t burn any bridges.
As Christ’s ambassadors to nonbelievers within our circles of inﬂuence, that list pretty much sums up our part in the evangelism process. Our job is to build authentic relationships by learning their language (both literally and culturally), showing respect, being mindful of how our actions reﬂect upon Christ’s cause, and when the opportunity presents itself, speaking “as though God were making His appeal through us” (v. 20).
Being an ambassador, however, is more than just presenting information. Ambassadors aren’t sent to foreign countries because the sending country likes to keep other countries updated on their aﬀairs. Matters of crucial importance are at stake, and decisions that aﬀect national security must be made. Ambassadors deliver information and then call for a decision.
The reason you can’t make excuses about not evangelizing is because you are needed to press for this decision! Jesus didn’t say, “Go ye therefore and build religious billboards” or “Go ye therefore and hide evangelism tracts in public restrooms so when people have to relieve themselves they’ll ﬁnd out about me.” He said, “You will be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8). That means we’re called to make human to human contact. What your nonbelieving friends need is a Christian they trust who will clear his or her throat, look them in the eyes, explain the story of Jesus, and then ask them if they’re ready to reconcile with God.
Paul wrote, “We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God” (v. 20). That’s why God needs you. You may be the only ambassador of Jesus your nonbelieving friends will ever encounter.
Do you understand that?
The issue is not whether or not you are Christ’s ambassador to them—you are. God already decided that. The question is whether or not you are a good ambassador. Make all the excuses you want, God sent you into your circle of inﬂuence to do a job, and there is no plan B if you don’t complete the job.
Jesus isn’t going to send in the angels if you drop the ball. God isn’t going to speak audibly to your friends to give them the opportunity to respond in faith to what He did in Jesus. Information about how to become a Christian will not spontaneously appear in your coworker’s brain by the power of the Holy Spirit. The heavens aren’t going to open up. The saints of old aren’t going to come rushing in at the last second.
For whatever reason, God in His inﬁnite wisdom (or audacity) chose to work through us to complete His ministry of reconciliation.
What that means is you’re the only plan God has.
You are the ministry of reconciliation.
Let that sink in.
Your coworker across the hall who trusts you—she’s your responsibility. In order to reach your neighbor, the one who has never been to church in his life, God is looking to you. God has done His part, and has now passed to us the responsibility to reach every single person in our circles of inﬂuence. As the great missionary Robert E. Speer once wrote, Jesus Christ alone can save the world, but even Jesus Christ cannot save the world alone.
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