|Ambassadors of Reconciliation
From our first moments of life we are weighed, measured, and scored. It starts in the hospital minutes after our first breath. As our life goes on, we learn, almost by osmosis, that rewards follow good behavior. By the same token we come to understand that poor performance, in almost any area of life, will bring scowls rather than praise from peers, teachers, coaches, and sometimes even parents. Trained rats run through a maze as fast as they can because they have learned they get a food pellet as a reward. Human beings play their own game of “rat-race.” We perform, we strive, we work, we study, and at the end of each maze we push a little lever and out comes our reward pellet. It is just the way life works. “There is no free lunch.” “You get what you deserve.” “We pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps.”
Then God comes into our cause-and-effect world and messes with the whole program. We believe people should get what they deserve, and Jesus dares to offer freely what we could never earn. The Bible is filled with reminders that the way of Jesus is radically countercultural:
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8, NIV)
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.(Ephesians 2:8–9, NIV)
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:9–10, NIV)
All those who want to be messengers of reconciliation must be ready to abandon the “cause-and-effect program” instituted by the world and taught to us from childhood. Instead, we need to freely embrace God’s “grace program.” When we do, we become Christ’s ambassadors in a world filled with people who need the grace that God freely offers.
Being reconciled to God, and showing others the way to a right relationship with their Maker, is not about what we do, but what God has done through Christ. Scott J. Hafemann writes:
“In our day of self-help and age of technology and technique, it is important to keep in mind that God is both the initiator and object of this reconciliation. Our propensity is to view the gospel as our opportunity to reconcile God to us by showing him how much we love him, rather than seeing it as God’s act in Christ by which he reconciles us to himself by demonstrating his own love for us. The gospel is not our chance to get right with God, but God’s declaration that he has already made us right with him. The gospel does not call us to do something for God that he might save us; it announces what God has done to save us that we might trust him.” (The NIV Application Commentary: 2 Corinthians)
Christians are God’s ambassadors in this world. It is as if God is speaking his words through each of his followers. What a staggering responsibility! What an honor! God has already done everything that needs to be done for lost and sinful people to be reconciled to him. Jesus, the sinless Lamb of God, has paid the price. As his ambassadors, we are called to invite people to accept this amazing work of reconciliation and be restored to a healed and whole relationship with God.