by Bob Allen:
My wife is very persuasive.
Let me rephrase that…I am easily persuaded by my wife.
If she wants me to do something, most of the time, all she has to do is ask (notice the emphasis on MOST of the time and not all of the time–I am known to be occasionally clueless). If she wants something, I often get up to get it when she mentions it, typically before she asks me to do so (which also leads to issues as I have been known to jump the gun). She doesn’t bat her eyes at me expectantly, or catch my gaze with her deep, green, goo-goo eyes, or give me a wry grin, or any other “persuasive” technique. No, I do the thing because I know it’s going to make her happy and if she’s happy (I’ve got to be honest) that’s good for me, right?
Persuasion is a funny thing. I am persuaded by my wife because she is my best friend, my helpmeet, my much-better-looking better half. I can fully understand the words of King Lemuel in Proverbs 31 because Mandy’s character is that of the Proverbial “Woman who fears the Lord”. I am blessed and honored to call her my spouse. But along the way, I had to be persuaded to pursue her. Ultimately, what drew me to her was the fact that she loves Jesus. I thought I loved Jesus before I met her, but her relationship showed me that I liked Jesus a whole lot but I didn’t really love Him. I can say that I would not be a pastor right now if she didn’t love Jesus. I would have never trod the paths I have if she didn’t love Jesus.
Why am I pouring out effusive praise for my wife and how she has helped me to get where I am? Because it’s a picture of how God works.
In his second letter to the church at Corinth, Paul writes, “For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us.” (2 Co. 5:19-20) God’s plan for the people of the world to come to know him is for his people to carry his message.
Being an ambassador for Christ is more than preaching the gospel, but it’s not less. It’s more than being compassionate, but it’s not less. It’s more than being friends with sinners, but it’s not less.
So, how are we to be ambassadors for Christ?
We adhere to the word of God for day-to-day life.
First and foremost, we need to demonstrate, as ambassadors, that the ruling principle of our lives is the Bible. If the Bible is true, we must live like it is. We must live like the gospel really is our hope. When we lose a job, we seek answers from God about what we should do next and take comfort knowing that our lives are more than just flesh and blood (Matthew 6). When we grieve and mourn, we take solace in the words of Paul that our God is the Father of all mercy and source of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). When we feel rejected by the world, the words of Jesus ring in our ears, “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world…Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you,” (John 15:18-20) to remind us that we’re in good company. When we blow it and sin, we confess because we know our God is faithful forgive our faithlessness (1 John 1:9).
In short, we thrive regardless of the circumstances.
Christians should be flourishing. Not because of anything they have done, but because of the hope they have for the future because of what Jesus accomplished on our behalf at Golgotha.
When we are asked by people around us about how we are able to not just survive but thrive, we must be be “ready to give a defense…[giving] an account for the hope that is within [us].” (1 Peter 3:15)
Christian, you are how God makes his appeal to the world. Your attitudes about God, your perspective on life, your joyfulness in hard times, your peace of mind in troubling circumstances, your gentleness in work frustrations, your kindness in response to rudeness, your patience in the challenges you face, your love for those around you are the things by which God draws people to himself. God is either appealing or appalling to people because of you. Francis of Assisi is attributed with proposing the following idea, “Share the gospel at all times and when necessary, use words.” What we say carries weight and people have to hear the gospel in order to receive it, but it is our lives that reflect whether what we say holds any water.
God called you out of darkness and into his marvelous light so that you would proclaim the excellencies of his mercy. Brothers and sisters, God wants to appeal to the world through you, and it’s mostly not about your words but your actions.