2 Corinthians 5:20
“So, we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, ‘Come back to God!’”
A good reputation in society can carry some heavy weight. With a good reputation, people can accomplish great things. They can be entrusted with great wealth, great privileges and tasks, and even with great secrets.
The Message of Jesus Christ is even more valuable than these, yet, the Christian reputation isn’t considered to be “good.” So, how can we be ambassadors for Christ if our reputation is basically ruined?
Before we dig into what we can do, let’s look for a moment at what, or who, has done the damage here to the name of Jesus.
When it comes to people and their beliefs, we are all different. Of course, the bible is one book, but the people who read it are all different. We all grow up differently in how we are raised, how we are taught, and with what we experience. So, when it comes to what we do as individuals, this can vary widely.
Just as Romans 3:23 tells us that we have all sinned and fall short of God’s glorious standards, we also have people living in sin or living unchanged the same as the world and telling others they are a Christian. Their walk with God is not evident.
Now all Christians will mess up and sin from time to time, but this is not the same as blatantly living in sin and calling yourself a Christian. In these situations, the message itself isn’t necessarily wrong, but the individual carrying the message is engaging in wrongdoing. Just like an accomplice, the Message of Christ receives a poor reputation along with the messenger.
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Satan is steadily corrupting our society
There is an enemy who goes about destroying all that is good. His name is Satan. Most of us have heard of him, but only few take him as a serious threat. But he is a serious threat. He is a serious threat to each one of us. He loves to get into “systems” and destroy them from within.
What systems am I speaking of? Well, Governments, justice systems, schools, relationships, parenting, and especially, churches. He has many workers and he is infiltrating these systems any way he can. He is all about division. With division, no system can stand. For a system to stand, it must have solid structure. As soon as there is a weak point, that system is at risk of collapsing.
For example, the church is a system. There are leaders and there are attendees. Satan will go after each. However, if he can corrupt the leader of that church, which is the supporting pillar, he can destroy the whole structure. If he can’t take out the pillar, he will create division among the attendees, thereby making the place desolate. Either way, his goal is to bring that church to ruins.
He will also get into our minds and start corrupting. He will get us focused on ourselves and our own desires. Take a look around; we are in a “Me” society where we are only really interested in what promotes Me. This too is the work of the enemy. By doing this, he has effectively caused people to despise anything that says; “You must do this or that or be this way or that.”
So, when it comes to the commands of God in the bible, and when the bible speaks of how we should act and what we shouldn’t do and what is sin, people get defensive and their walls go up. Again, Satan has created division between believers and unbelievers, even to the point where we believers aren’t tolerated.
Christian “preachers” living in sin
So, as we have discussed, Satan is attacking from within. We often hear news that a preacher has been arrested for this or that. We hear of them caught in adultery, in child molestation acts, in pornography, and in every other type of sexual immorality. Satan wants us to get caught in this trap.
1 Corinthians 6:18
“Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body.”
The next verse goes on to tell about how the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. So, when we get involved in sexual immorality, we defile the temple of the Living God. This is why Satan tempts us, and especially men, with anything and everything sexually immoral.
From society’s perspective, we have Christian preachers telling everyone that they must do this or that and that they should refrain from this or that, while they themselves are engaging in these things. So, we can’t all sit around wondering why nobody wants to hear about the Christian Message of Christ. His message has been taken as hypocritical, just like the messenger.
Because of the behavior of certain Christian leaders, the Christian message has developed a poor reputation. So, what can we do?
We are still called to be examples for Christ in this dark world, even if a bad reputation exists
“Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.”
No matter what has been done by people who were doing the good work, but became corrupted, we must continue to do what is good. God wants His message delivered and He wants for all of us to share this message of His Son.
If there ever really was a “trick” to staying true to God and His Word, it’s this; keep your focus on God alone.
The more we engage in learning about and living for God, the more He teaches us and reveals to us about Himself. When we study the Scripture, we develop a strong discerning spirit within us. This is beneficial to us as we are better able to see the contrast between good and evil.
Satan will still try to tempt us and attack our thoughts, but because God opens our eyes, we will see these attacks for what they are. Where the issue of weakness lies is when we allow our focus to shift from God to Me. This instantly opens a door of invitation to Satan. As long as we have any sort of open doorway to him, he has full right to come in as the messy tenant he is and make his home there.
His ways are subtle, and he is smooth and enticing. He speaks to us in perfect timing; when we are alone, and no one is looking. But God is looking. God knows that small sin turns into big sin and soon enough, we won’t be able to hide it anymore.
Unbelievers are watching Christians closely. We can relate this to a boy who studies his father’s every move. That child watches closely and see’s everything, as he will one day be like his dad. Unbelievers are studying us, as they look for the falseness of our religion. We, as Christ’s ambassadors, must eliminate any reason for suspicion as we go about living just as Jesus lived; in love for all.
In what ways can we be an example for Christ?
First, let’s look at the things the bible says we shouldn’t do or the characteristics we shouldn’t employ:
“Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God.”
“When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.”
God is very serious about this. So serious that He says that people who live like this won’t inherit the Kingdom of God. So, if we are living in any of these, how can we expect anyone else to come to Christ through us?
This is the primary reason we want to walk according to God’s Will and be an example for Christ. As people see how we live and how God blesses His faithful children, non-believers are more likely to ask about what they can do to live the same. This opens a door to share the message. If we are living in sin on Monday through Saturday and church on Sunday, people will see this behavior, too, and not take God’s Word and warning seriously.
Now, let’s look at the characteristics we should employ:
“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”
These nine characteristics are those that the Holy Spirit possesses. When we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, God sends the Holy Spirit to live in us. So, when He makes His home in us, we inherit these nine characteristics and His power. This means, we have the power to love and be kind and be patient and gentle and to practice self-control. We have the power to say no to Satan and to live for Christ in this dark world.
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Living as an ambassador for Christ isn’t always easy. Between a spoiled reputation and Satan’s relentless attacks, we are near doomed for failure. However, God is a powerful and faithful God. If we are serious about our loyalty to Him, He will be serious about His protection and provision for us. This also means that He will continuously give us power and authority over Satan and his evil workers.
Living as an example of Christ means to love one another. This alone can be very difficult in this corrupt society; especially, when there are so many wicked crimes being committed by people of all nations. As we mature in our faith in Christ and we become more enlightened by God, we will be more inclined to see these wicked issues being committed by God’s created people for what they are: Satan’s sinful nature in us.
We aren’t called to love the sin; we are called to love the people. It is not us who are called to judge, but instead, to build up, to encourage, to help, to love, to support, and to teach. We can be Christ’s ambassadors, not by changing the world first, but by getting right before God and maintaining a clean conscience before Him.
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