DO GOOD AS AMBASSADORS OF CHRIST
“Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us.
Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.”
(1Peter 2:11-17 NIV)
Happy Thanksgiving y’all,
When I read today’s passage, I am thankful for new life in Christ, Holy Spirit living in me, the word of God to guide me, that I am a new creation able to live the life God has for me, and that I have the ability to ignore my critics and hear the voice of my Master, Jesus.
Followers of Jesus sure have their share of critics. We are bombarded with accusations of wrongdoing by foolish people who pick and choose “representative” self-professed “Christians” who are seen in bad behavior and compromising circumstances. The media for instance, loves to pick some famous “Christian” and broadcast his or her ungodly behavior as representative of the “hypocrites” they think we all are. I could give examples, but I am sure many are coming to your mind; the news has been full of them as of late. The world has been criticizing us since the beginning, and they have no plan on stopping anytime soon. And to be honest, our lifestyle, which often does not look much different then the world, has warranted their insults and accusations. I believe this passage addresses the method for “silencing the ignorant talk of foolish people” (vs.15).
Firstly, we need to remember that this world is not our home. We are but foreigners in a strange land, aliens passing through, so why would we indulge in the sinfulness of this world? The Bible says we are ambassadors from another nation (2Cor. 5:20), the kingdom of God. Here is the definition of an “ambassador”: “a diplomatic agent of the highest rank accredited to a foreign government or sovereign as the resident representative of his or her own government or sovereign or appointed for a special and often temporary diplomatic assignment”. What a great definition! We are agents from Heaven on special assignment, on temporary mission, representing our King and Kingdom! That should be our number one motivation for “doing good”.
Secondly, by the power of Holy Spirit, we can “abstain from sinful desires”. We are new creations, with a new mind, new heart and new reason for living -to please God. We are also victorious in Christ to win the battle with sin, because Jesus has killed our sin nature. We are dead to sin, and alive to Christ. Friends, this is the good news of the Gospel! There may be an internal war between the soul and the spirit, but that battle has been won, and Holy Spirit has given us the ability to overcome, and choose what is good and right. The soul (mind, will and emotions) should no longer control us, Holy Spirit should. He is transforming our soul into the likeness of Christ. We need to live out of the new creation reality. If you seem to not be winning this battle, you need to stop and read Romans 6 (dead to sin); Romans 7 (caught in a battle); Romans 8 (victory by the Spirit); and Galatians 5 (lead by Holy Spirit). When we live out of that new creation reality, in the power of Holy Spirit, good lives and good deeds will be produced, and people will glorify God. This is what Jesus taught in Matthew 5:13-16.
When we choose to be led by Holy Spirit (walk in the light), not by our sinful nature (in darkness), and choose to live for the One we represent, even Jesus, then we can live out what is required of us in the world. Firstly, we can submit to the authorities God has put in place in this world to punish evil and reward good. As long as that submission does not involve going against God’s word. When rulers ask a follower of Jesus to contradict God’s word, they have forfeited their right to rule under God, and we must obey God, not man (Acts 4:13-22; Exodus 1:15-22). We first and foremost serve God, not man – we are free… but slaves to God! We, as people filled with God’s love, can respect others, love our fellow believers, fear God and honor our worldly leaders. We can do all these things through Christ who strengthens us. Let us give thanks for the abiding presence of Christ, which enables us to live the life He wants us to live as His ambassadors.
Have a blessed week!