In his passage on reconciliation in 2Corinthians 5, Paul says that Christians are ambassadors for Christ (vs. 20). An ambassador is an official envoy who represents a foreign sovereign, providing a link between his host country and the country he represents. Ambassadors work to build relations and develop policies that favor both the host and the home of the ambassador. An ambassador is appointed by the leadership of those he represents and is given authority to speak on their behalf.
An ambassador must walk a very fine line. He lives in one country, but he is responsible to another. He must represent the message of a leader who is not directly present. He must also embody the character of his home country, following laws and customs that are not necessarily known or even welcome in the host nation. All while respecting the laws and customs of that host.
In 2Corinthians 5, instead of a nation, Paul is an ambassador of the Kingdom of God. Unlike modern political ambassadors, Paul did not originate from the “nation” he represented. He had to be adopted in, through Christ’s sacrifice, and then he had to undergo a change of perspective. He was no longer a citizen of the world and he no longer saw things as a citizen of the world. He saw things through the perspective of a citizen of the Kingdom of God — he was a new creation (vs. 17).
Paul’s work as ambassador was to spread his Ruler’s message to his host nation. That message was reconciliation. God wanted to be personally reconciled to the people Paul lived with. In a way, Paul was asking his hosts to commit treason against the kingdom of the world and pledge citizenship to the Kingdom of God.
They could then follow in Paul’s footsteps by becoming an ambassador for Christ in their own lives — as can we. It starts with a change in citizenship. If we are to represent Jesus to the world, we must first belong to the Kingdom of God instead of the kingdom of self. We must live by the standards of our new King, even though we are temporarily away from Him (vss. 6-9). Most importantly, we must accept that this earth is not our home — our home awaits us, “eternal in the heavens” (vs. 1) — even if we are imprisoned and abused by our host country (Ephesians 6:20). Finally, ambassadors must then spread His message: that everyone is welcome to have such a relationship with God.
Being an ambassador for Christ is the fulfillment of the incredibly important kingdom perspective. To follow Christ means to give up the kingdom of self and the kingdom of the world, and pledge allegiance to the Kingdom of God. It means our home is heaven, not earth. Our responsibility is to tell others about that good news so they can join the Kingdom of God as well.