“Kingdom representatives, call us ambassadors–we happen to be rappers but that’s not even the half of us.” -Stephen the Levite (from “Talk A Lot” by ‘The Ambassador’).¹
People are Ambassadors. We all represent something, whether we know or admit it. We communicate that which we represent to those around us in our culture–that is–the way we go about the various activities of life, our way of being. So the question is: what do you communicate? If people were to wonder what you represent, what answer would they get? Don’t worry, this isn’t a “pull up your socks and do better” sort of post, I promise.
If you read the last post on this blog, you’ll know where I’m at musically. “I like me some golden-era Hip Hop. And I like me some Gospel.” I also said that I could give you who are reading a pretty good list of artists to check out; artists who have taken seriously the task of being an ambassador through the medium of music, specifically in Hip Hop culture. Now, the task is more than simply being an ambassador. Like I suggested above, I think we already are ambassadors. The task is to figure out what we are an ambassador for.
What do we represent? What do we communicate to others through our culture, the way we go about life, our way of being?
One thing our culture is currently communicating a lot of is its infatuation with nostalgia. I’m not immune to it, not in the least. I’ve sought out my share of nostalgia by repeatedly playing albums from a particular group (who would be at the top of the aforementioned list) and its individual members: The Cross Movement. Cross Movement was a collective of Philadelphia MC’s (rappers) who realized that their surroundings, the culture and way of being they found their neighbours in, communicated something unhealthy and destructive–something that came from the sinful heart of humanity.
Simply put, they knew their neighbours were enslaved to sin. This group, however, knew and served a different master, a better master. That master told them, in His Word, that they were His representatives. Like the name of one of the founding members, they were their master’s Ambassadors. As with some of you reading this, their master is the One true God, fully revealed in the person of Jesus Christ (the one you might have heard about), who was crucified and raised from the dead in Jerusalem–the reason the Church celebrated Easter this past week.
How do you be an ambassador for Jesus?
This is a question that Christians have been asking for a while now.
Does it mean forming a rap group like the Cross Movement? Maybe. Does it mean looking at your local coffee shop as a mission field every morning when you’re grabbing your daily dose of caffeine? Maybe.
Scripture says that those who follow Christ, called Christians, are to make more Christians. In Matthew 28, Jesus tells His disciples this very thing!
“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.'” Matthew 28:18-20 [ESV]
His disciples were instructed to go and disciple others–by baptizing them and teaching them. And Jesus would what? Be with them always, to the end of the age.
Perhaps you have wondered how to go about this Great Commission from Jesus when you have an unsteady nine to five, three kids, a mortgage, car payments, and whatever else you have going on. Here’s what has seemed wise to me, in my situation currently.
I keep regular office hours as a pastor during the week. Down the road from me is a Tim Hortons (coffee shop) connected to a gas station. An hour before my office hours start, I go get a coffee, and chat with the gas station employees who also happen to live in my apartment building. I’ve only done it twice so far. I just started doing it and I’ve met 4 new people. They all know, through conversation, that I’m a Christian pastor. No, we haven’t prayed the sinners prayer, but we’ve talked about who they are, where they’re from (from southern AB to England to the Philippines), and I plan to invite a couple of them to see Batman v. Superman with me (even though the reviews are apparently terrible).
We talk about life together. I try to remember to pray for them. And God is in charge of whatever fruit might come.
That’s just one place where I’ve realized I can be an Ambassador.
As the opening quote said: We are all “kingdom representatives, call us ambassadors.” I happen to be a pastor, but “that’s not even the half of us!”
It’s also you too–And that’s good! Not a pastor? That’s good!
Do you see and/or interact with people? Have you ever wondered if those people, whether you know them or not, serve the same Master that you do? Are they enslaved to sin and death? Wouldn’t it be wonderful for them to know the love, goodness, and grace of our Master?? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the people you see, wherever you see them, knew what happened those 2,000 years ago, what we just celebrated in Easter?
Heck yeah it would!
That’s where you can be an Ambassador. In fact, that’s where you are an Ambassador.
This isn’t a “pull up your socks and serve God better” kind of thing. This is a “God so loved me that His love spills over to my neighbours” kind of thing. It isn’t something you have to do, but rather something that God is going to do through you and with you–a natural byproduct of the wonderful gift of grace He’s given you. It’s God’s mission, and He invites us to participate with Him in it (as my professor used to say). God has said that He will do this mission with His Body, the people of God.
“Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:20-21 [ESV]
See, Paul says here that we are ambassadors for Jesus, that God makes His appeal to people through us–namely–His appeal through the Gospel that sinners be reconciled to Himself (which continues to include us in sanctification, transformed living!). We are ambassadors, and ambassadors are God’s tools for spreading His Word, which makes & sustains Christians, the mission that Jesus called us to join in Matt 28. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul asks for prayer that he might boldly proclaim this Gospel for which he is, you guessed it, an ambassador.
So if people were to wonder what you represent, what answer would they get?
I hope they get Jesus, because Jesus, who knew no sin, has given Himself & His righteousness to you! If you are in Christ, you represent Him! The more you are in His Word, soaking up the beauty of the Gospel, the more that God’s freedom, grace, and mercy through Jesus will fill you up and spill over to whoever’s around you.
So, in that freedom, grace, and mercy of our Master, go to the coffee shop, the grocery store, the record store, the ‘wherever you hang out’, and spill on your neighbours! You’re our Master’s ambassador, His representative, and He’s equipped you with all that both you and your neigbour need: The Gospel of Jesus.
It’s not always easy, but you have a powerful testimony of what God has done in you through Jesus. You might say, He gave you the Word(s).
by pastor nick.
¹”Stephen the Levite” is a Christian Hip Hop artist, who was featured on the song “Talk a Lot”. The song quoted, on which Stephen the Levite is featured, is by another Christian Hip Hop artist called (fittingly) “The Ambassador,” a former Pastor, Dallas Theological Seminary alumni, and founding member of the pioneering Christian Hip Hop group “The Cross Movement.”