More often than not, when people from various countries arrive in the United States we can immediately notice they are not from here. We call them “foreigners” because they hold citizenship in their home country and not ours. They dress in a different way, act and speak differently, and sometimes look different. Foreigners stand out despite the fact that they are temporary residents in the US.
The apostle Paul and the writer of the book of Hebrews wrote about the importance of Christians everywhere understanding that this earth is not our home—we are merely foreigners and temporary residents because our citizenship is in heaven (Hebrews 11:13; Philippians 3:20). As a result, our conduct and the way we speak to others should make people immediately recognize that we are different, that we stand out. Consider also what the apostle Peter wrote:
Dear friends, I urge you as strangers and exiles to abstain from sinful desires that wage war against the soul (1 Peter 2:11, CSB).
Sinful desires are of this world. Being citizens of heaven, we are to abstain from such so that we may catch the world’s eye because of the way we live. As temporary sojourners, we are not only here to abstain from things that are pleasing to the flesh but damaging to the soul, we are here on a mission to share the message of the cross to the world. Look what Paul had to say:
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf: “Be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20).
Ambassadors are considered to be dignitaries because they represent their native country as they travel abroad to foreign nations in order to establish peaceful relationships. If the ambassador fails in his responsibilities and his comportment is unbecoming, the foreign country receiving him would immediately reject whatever the ambassador has to offer and look down on his country because he is supposed to be its representation. He’s the reflective image of his nation.
Now make a biblical application to what Paul wrote about Christians being Jesus’ ambassadors: if we are supposed to mirror Him and speak on His behalf to the world, how much more then should we carefully conduct ourselves to those outside of Christ? When preaching the message of peace and reconciliation, we must make sure we are living what we are proclaiming. Otherwise, the world will not only look down on us, but scorn the Almighty God. I’ve read about and heard too many times of people saying, “If this is what Christianity is about then you can keep it to yourself. I want nothing to do with your Jesus” all because of the shameful ways we behave in the world. What the world sees in us is what they will see in Jesus, so let us make sure that we are properly portraying Him.
Remember also, dear readers, that we are Christ’s letter of recommendation written by and stamped with the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:2,3). He delivered us to mankind. We are not only foreigners and ambassadors, but living epistles. Our actions and speech are being read by every individual, so what are we telling them? Are we a true message belonging to the One who sent us, or are we merely a letter in name only and, as a result, we get discarded with the other junk letters people receive? We must let our actions be so Christ-like that the world would respond to His gospel letter with a “yes” and come to Him.