We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:20
When you hear the word “ambassador” you likely think of a person who represents your nation in a foreign land. This diplomat’s job is to be the go-between for two countries. In the 2 Corinthians 5:20 meaning, Paul takes this position and uses it as an illustration for Christians’ God-given mission.
But this passage has also caused much confusion for followers of Jesus. How are we supposed to be an ambassador for Christ? And often this passage is never broken down into practical things we can do today.
So, what I want to do in this blog post is dive into the meaning of 2 Corinthians 5:20 and see what it can teach us. And then we will look at 5 practical ways we can be an ambassador of Christ.
I think this is a powerful passage that will challenge your faith. And if you took this passage to heart I believe God will use you to change people’s lives. This is a message you don’t want to ignore!
Table of Contents
The Context Of 2 Corinthians 5:20
Paul wrote 2 Corinthians to the church in Corinth around 55 A.D. This letter centers around problems this church was facing… and man did they have some problems. Really, this church isn’t too different than the western church today.
Throughout this letter Paul offers wisdom and encouragement, but also doesn’t shy away from commands to not abandon the calling of Jesus.
It’s this calling that is emphasized in chapter 5 where he calls for followers of Jesus to live in a way that reflects God to those around them. The church in Corinth was living for themselves and their desires. Paul is claiming that because of Jesus we should no longer live for us, but Christ (2 Corinthians 5:15).
2 Corinthians 5:20 is really the key verse in this section; this is our calling that Paul is challenging his readers to live up to.
2 Corinthians 5:20 Meaning
To help us better understand the calling God has for us in the 2 Corinthians 5:20 meaning, we are going to break this verse down into three sections.
We Are Ambassadors For Christ…
An ambassador is someone who represents one state (or country) to another. They are the authorized representative and messenger to the foreign country in which they are residing.
Paul here is using this well-known and respected position to illustrate our calling from God. We are ambassadors for Christ. This tells us a few things about our calling.
First, followers of Jesus belong to another kingdom. An ambassador lives in a foreign land, but belongs to a different kingdom. Their allegiance isn’t ultimately to the place they reside. The same must be true for each Christian.
Second, the ambassador holds an extremely important job. They are the primary representatives for their kingdom/country. This is not a job that should be taken lightly; a lot is at stake. Again, the same is true for followers of Jesus.
When Paul says that we are ambassadors for Christ he’s saying that we are God’s representatives in the world we currently live in. This is our role, our mission, and we should behave accordingly. Christians have an important job to do, showcase Christ so that others can come to know him.
As Though God Were Making His Appeal Through Us…
Paul here is showing the seriousness of this role; we are God’s spokesperson. What we say, what we do, tells those around us something about God.
Far too many Christians don’t take this responsibility seriously. Many flat out ignore it or are embarrassed by it.
We forget that this is a privileged position. We ought to hold it with pride that God can use us for such an important task. God wants to use you to show those around you the love he has. What an incredible opportunity you have.
We Implore You On Christ’s Behalf: Be Reconciled…
So what’s the message that ambassadors of Christ bring? Reconciliation. Paul implores, or begs, all believers to take this message with them as they move about the world.
Reconciliation simply means to change. In the context that Paul is talking about here, reconciliation involves a change in our relationship with God. It assumes that the relationship was fractured, but now there has been a change from broken to whole. A reconciliation.
This is the good news of the gospel. We were sinners, broken, and on our way to death. But Jesus’ work on the cross has brought a change.
This is what Paul is getting at just a few verses prior in 2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
This is the message Christians are charged with taking. God has made a way to restore the relationship. He came to bring us a full life, a real life (John 10:10). We no longer have to keep heading towards death searching for something that will bring us true joy. Jesus has freely given it to all.
Therefore, because of what Jesus has done, we are to take the role of Ambassadors of Christ seriously and spread the message of reconciliation everywhere we go.
What Does It Mean To Be An Ambassador For Christ?
Now that we’ve looked at the 2 Corinthians 5:20 meaning, I want to look at how we can practically apply this to our lives. Let’s end by looking at 5 ways we can be an ambassador for Christ.
1. Start With Your Relationship With God
It’s hard to represent someone who you do not know. If we want to be good (and effective) ambassador we have to invest in the one who we are supposed to be representing.
Being an ambassador for Christ starts with spending time with Christ ourselves. We need to get to know him, invest in the relationship, and deepen our faith. If we neglect our relationship with God we will never be good ambassadors.
A great resource to help you grow closer to God is Core 52 by Mark Moore: Core 52: A Fifteen-Minute Daily Guide to Build Your Bible IQ in a Year
2. Pour Into Relationships With Those Around You
Maybe you’ve encountered that Christian that stands on the street corner yelling at the “sinners” that pass by. That’s not what it means to be an ambassador of Christ. It’s brash and ineffective.
Now I know most Christians would never do that… but many Christians still take an “us vs them” approach. What I mean is we look down on, insult, and criticize those who don’t follow Jesus. But that’s not what Jesus did nor is it what he told us to do. Our command is to love not criticize. The “us vs them” approach is not effective and often drives people further away from God.
Instead, we should invest in relationships with people around us. Who are your friends, neighbors, co-workers, and the people you see each week? Those are the people that you should be building relationships with.
Being an ambassador starts with building genuine and loving relationships with the people around you.
3. Ask Questions
I’m convinced if we just took time to understand people’s point of view we would have more sympathy and understanding. But far too often we jump to conclusions and assume we are right and they are wrong. Rather than seek to understand, we seek to prove why we are right.
This happens in just about every aspect of life, but it’s certainly true in faith. When we encounter someone who believes different than us, a better approach would be to simply ask questions.
In our culture few people actually ask questions; we’d rather argue our point. But interestingly Jesus rarely did that, and he knew his stuff! Rather than assert the truth Jesus asked questions. He showed interest in understanding each person, and through the questions he asked he caused them to evaluate why they believed what they did.
If we want to be good ambassadors for Christ we should focus LESS on threats/arguing our views and more on asking questions.
You might also like: 6 Questions Jesus Asked (and the powerful truth you need to know)
4. Share Your Story
Your story is more powerful than you realize. Your story is more effective at showing others Christ than any argument you could create. Sharing your story is key to being a good ambassador for Christ.
We all share stories with those we care about; we share about our lives and what’s happening. Yet, many followers of Jesus neglect to share what God is doing in their lives. This is the most powerful part of your story!
Each follower of Jesus should find ways to share their story with those they have built relationships with. Now, I’m not saying you should stand up and give a speech. Rather find natural ways to share what God has been teaching you.
I encounter many Christians who think their job is to save the people around them. Not only is that not our role, that’s a huge burden to carry. But thankfully Jesus has already done the heavy lifting. He died on the cross for every single person.
This is the good news of the Gospel. That you, and everyone you know, has been saved. Our role isn’t to save, rather to invite. Ambassadors for Christ invite people to step into the incredible life that he has for them.
Our responsibility is to extend the invitation. That’s it. How they choose to respond is between them and God. We don’t need to argue or threaten, simply invite. And if they reject the invitation, we just keep loving them.
An ambassador of Christ invites the people around them to follow Jesus and find the incredible life he has for them.
Thanks for reading this blog post on the 2 Corinthians 5:20 meaning. I hope that it help you better understand how you are an ambassador for Christ. If it did, you would share it with a friend so they too can benefit?
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