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Behold, The Ambassador of the Kingdom of God

A Sermon Delivered at:
The Coxsackie United Methodist Church

2 August 1998

Frank L. Hoffman, Guest Pastor

SCRIPTURE REFERENCES:

Genesis 1:26-31
Psalm 24:1
Proverbs 13:17
Isaiah 11:6-10
Matthew 5:48; 6:10

1 Corinthians 2:16
2 Corinthians 5:20

Revelation 21:4

Behold, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of God!

But who is the Ambassador?  And, where is the Ambassador?

Perhaps the Ambassador is in the embassy.

But, where is the embassy of the Kingdom of God?

We know that most of the nations of this world have their embassies in Washington, DC, and many have consulates in other major cities.

However, this is not the way of the Kingdom of God.

Each nation sends only one ambassador to each country; but again, this in not so with the Kingdom of God.

God sends out many ambassadors to each country.  In fact, in most countries He has many embassies.

And, in every embassy He is willing to have many ambassadors.

The reason that most people haven't recognized the embassies of the Kingdom of God, as such, is that we don't call them embassies; we call them Churches.

And the reason that most people don't recognize the ambassadors of the Kingdom of God, is because most of God's ambassadors don't act like His ambassadors.

The dictionary definition of an ambassador is: a diplomatic agent of the highest rank, sent by one sovereign government to another sovereign government as a representative of his or her government.

The ambassador is to represent the interests of his or her government to perfection, that no one will misinterpret the intent of their respective governments.

Wesley said that perfection is Christian maturity.  It means having a heart filled with the love of God and neighbor.  It is mature discipleship in which obeying God has become a habit.

Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:20:

20    We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God.
(NIV)

Both the apostle Paul and John Wesley are saying the same thing, as is the dictionary.  We are to be as God or Jesus before others; and so much so, that they see His presence in us.

We are to represent the intent, the ideals, and not the concessions of God.

We recite the Lord's Prayer, but do we really understand our ambassadorial responsibilities in that prayer?

Listen again to just one verse (Matthew 6:10).

10    Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

As we just said, we are to represent the will of God, and not the concessions He allows because of His grace.

We are to bring the ideals of the Kingdom of God to this earth, and do our best to have them implemented.

Minimally, as ambassadors we are to live these ideals as a witness to the world.

Others may not want to hear our words, but the picture we present of our own lives is worth a thousand words.

There is a story that is told of St. Francis and one his disciples.  

The young man had heard that Francis was going into town to deliver a sermon, so he asked to go along.

The two walked into town and along several streets to the town square, and walked around it and down several other streets and back out of town without saying a word.

On the way back home, the young man said to Francis, "I thought you were going to deliver a sermon." And Francis replied, "I did!"

St. Francis' life was so much an open book to the Kingdom of God, that all who saw Him were aware of his message. 

His very presence was a reminder of the will and intent of God.  He was truly one of God's ambassadors.

And if we doubt that this is God's intent for all our lives, we are to remember that Jesus told us that we are to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48), which is also what John Wesley reminds us about our perfection as mature Christians.

And Paul even goes so far as to tell us that we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16), which means that we can and should think and act as Jesus does.

This is our ambassadorship.

So, where do we go from here?

Let's take a look at the original will and intent of God, as we are told in Genesis 1:26-31:

26    Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock [cattle], over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."

27    So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

We know that God is not a physical being.  He is Spirit.

Thus, our likeness must be a spiritual likeness, or at least it should be.

But, how do we interpret our "rule" over God's creation?

Let's look a little further.

28    God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."

Now, we also must consider what it means to both "rule" and "subdue" God's creation.

29    Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.

30    And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground-- everything that has the breath of life in it-- I give every green plant for food." And it was so.


31    God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning-- the sixth day.
(NIV)

There was peace.  There was no death, for God loved His creation, and considered everything He had made to be "very good".

None of God's creatures (human and non-human) had to die that others might live.  All ate plant-based diets.

To "rule" over the earth is to do so in the will and intent of God as He lovingly created the heavens and the earth.

We are to do everything we can to bring peace to this earth, and stop the violence against people, animals and the environment.

To "rule" according to God's will does not mean to exploit God's creation, but to protect it.

As ambassadors, we are to remind this world of that intent.

Whether or not we want to live this way is a matter of our own will, not God's will.

If God's intent is for us all to live in peace without any killing, then what are we to "subdue"?

We are to subdue whoever or whatever tries to subvert God's intent.

We are to do our best to subdue the evil that seeks to exploit or destroy what God lovingly created.

But in so doing, we are not to resort to the violent ways of this world; we are to remain at peace.

We are to remind the world that the earth is the Lord's and not ours, and that everything that is in and upon the earth is God's, too, and not ours (Psalm 24:1).

God has given us many things to use during our lifetime here upon this earth, but we are not to destroy it or abuse it.

We are to bring healing to this world as we are told in Proverbs 13:17:

17    A wicked messenger falls into trouble, but a trustworthy envoy [ambassador] brings healing.
(NIV)

If we are doing our very best to truly be God's ambassadors, and we get frustrated because people don't want to know the truth, then we must also remember the frustration of Jesus when most of the nation of Israel refused to listen to Him.

Yet Jesus didn't condemn the earth; He sought always to save it and us, and for us to continue His work.

And when we get frustrated with the evil and violence of this world, we are to look to the future.

As Isaiah tells us (Isaiah 11:6-10):

6    The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.

7    The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox.


8    The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper's nest.


9    They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.


10    In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious.
(NIV)

And as John tells us in Revelation 21:4:

4    And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
(KJV)

As ambassadors, we are to pave the way for this Kingdom of God.

We are to let others know of the true intent and will of God from the beginning of time until the end; it has never changed.

It is we who have changed, and it's time that all who consider themselves to be God's people to begin to change back into the people God desires us to be.

This is our ambassadorship!

Lord, help each and every one of us to truly accept our responsibilities as Your ambassadors, that others will seek You and Your Kingdom.

Amen.

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