Saturday, February 25
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.
To be an ambassador—now, as in Paul’s time—is to be respected and well-connected. It is to be favored by a ruler—even in our democracy, ambassadors are presidential appointees and often reflect deep personal and political interconnections. But to be an ambassador is also to be a servant, albeit one of high place. A good ambassador, by definition, never acts in self-interest, but only and always as a representative of a higher power.
To be an ambassador is also to only rarely directly encounter the power one represents. The meaningful acts of an ambassador necessarily take place at a distance—one must leave one’s homeland (one may try to take comfort in the idea that an embassy is “home soil,” but history shows that this is little more than a polite legal fiction). More, to be an ambassador is to act for a power even—especially—when one cannot communicate with that power. Ambassadors have always been chosen because they can be trusted to be the hand and voice of the absent. This is why being an ambassador is such a great and terrible responsibility.
And so, while there can be significant perks of ambassadorship—a beautiful residence, diplomatic immunity, garden parties with lots of champagne—there is also great potential for fear and loneliness. On foreign, possibly hostile soil, far from home and allies, an ambassador must sometimes feel an overwhelming desolation.
And don’t we feel this way, sometimes, as ambassadors of Christ? We are asked to continuously represent our sovereign, even when we feel uncertain, alone, unsure of our precise instructions or exact remit, even in the darkest moments when we feel totally abandoned or doubt our own capacity for loyalty. (After all, earthly ambassadors have sometimes woken to find themselves representing countries that, overnight, have ceased to exist. And we’ve never even visited ours – perhaps it was never there?)
C.S. Lewis says in The Screwtape Letters, Letter 8, God is most happy with us when we do his will at moments we feel his presence the least. It is easy—or easier, at least—to represent a sovereign when we are receiving regular dispatches, when we feel his attention and regard and understand clearly his instructions. But the most valuable ambassadors are those who cling to the identity of their lord even when separated by distance, silence, war, or doubt, trusting their homeland remains inviolate and they will travel there when their task is done.
Lord, please help us to faithfully act as your hand and your voice until we may be ultimately reconciled to you. Amen.