We are ambassadors for Christ. What does that mean? Does being an ambassador for Christ mean that we are supposed to speak on behalf of Christ and bear the truth about Christ to others? No, that is what a messenger does. A messenger communicates on behalf of someone else; that is not an ambassador. Does being an ambassador for Christ mean that we are supposed to stand in for Christ and do the work that Christ would do in our place? No, that is what a representative does. A representative stands in for someone else who is not present and acts on their behalf. That is not an ambassador.
An ambassador is someone who travels far away from home, away to another country, to live among people with different values, different laws, and different rulers. But there in that foreign land, the ambassador lives according to the laws of their own home country. They are not subject to the laws of the country to which they go. They are immune from those laws and instead are subject to the laws of their home country. There is a Portuguese embassy on the top floor of the building at the corner of Dartmouth and Exeter. And on that floor, the laws of the United States do not apply, the laws of Portugal apply. For all intents and purposes, the embassy is a part of Portugal. An embassy is just a place where the powers of an ambassador are lived out. The power of an ambassador, the purpose of an ambassador, is to live in a foreign nation, but to be governed by the laws of their home. In one sense, this makes them above the law. They can do what they please. Except, an ambassador is also someone who will someday be called home, and there back in their home country, they will be called to give an account of what they have done, an account of how they lived out the laws of their home country in a foreign land.
We are ambassadors for Christ. What does that mean?
Let me tell you the story of one ambassador for Christ—Raoul Wallenberg. Technically speaking, Raoul Wallenberg was an ambassador for Sweden living in Hungary. On the streets of Budapest, he set up institutions with names like the “Swedish Library” or “The Institute of Swedish Research”. He hung big Swedish flags off the front of these buildings and would travel around town in a fleet of cars he had painted in Sweden’s national colors of yellow and blue. Raoul Wallenberg did not do this because he was such a zealot for Swedish culture. He did this because it was 1945, and he was the Swedish ambassador to German occupied Hungary.
Raoul Wallenberg knew that the German backed puppet government was conducting sweeps of the Jewish ghettoes in Budapest. Neighborhood by neighborhood, Jews were being loaded into train cars and taken to Auschwitz. The laws that governed Budapest were corrupt and death dealing but Raoul Wallenberg was an ambassador. He was not bound by those corrupt laws. He lived by a different set of laws. He carried with him stacks and stacks of what he called “protective passports:” official documents that declared that the one bearing the passport was a subject of Sweden returning home and was not to be detained for any reason.
On one occasion, he climbed on top of a train car packed with people being sent to their deaths and began handing passports through the doors as they were closing, pulling as many people out as he could before declaring to the dumbfounded guards that these were Swedish citizens before driving away in his fleet of blue and yellow cars.
He gave these protective passports out to Jews as fast as he could print them, bringing people to the buildings he had scattered around town including the “Swedish Library” or the “The Institute of Swedish Research” and many others that were in fact boarding houses that could hold up to 10,000 people. People would be hidden there and later sneak out of the country with new Swedish identities. He saved tens of thousands of lives because he did not obey corrupt and death dealing laws but lived according to different laws—he was an ambassador! Raoul Wallenberg was the Swedish ambassador to Hungary in 1945. He was an ambassador for Christ.
We are ambassadors for Christ. What does that mean?
It means that wherever we live, wherever we go, whatever life or chance or outrageous fortune might lay before us, we are sovereign citizens of the realm of God. We answer to Christ as the ruler of our lives. The love of God in Jesus Christ is the law we are bound to follow. Wherever we go, there goes with us a little piece of the reign of God, an embassy of Heaven on the earth. Or to quote 2 Corinthians: if anyone is in Christ, there is the new creation. Behold all things are made new!
And the world needs ambassadors for Christ, people who live according to the law of the love of God and refusing to abide by unjust structures of society. We need ambassadors for Christ because if you grow up poor in Boston, it is like somebody passed a law that says that that you are just not going to get a fair shot to get ahead. It is like somebody passed a law that you will not get into the best school and the school you get into will not have what it needs and when other kids get the best you get stuck with the rest. It happens so much to so many kids it is like somebody passed a law, and so we need ambassadors for Christ, people who refuse to abide by the law, who live by a different law, that every kid deserves their chance. We need Ambassadors for Christ like Caitlin Minnich who works two jobs and spends weeks of her own time to collect books to give to the children in her after-school program, children for some of whom the book Caitlin gives them is the first book they have ever owned.
We need ambassadors for Christ because if you get hooked on drugs or wind up living on the street, it is like somebody passed a law that your life is over, that when you try to stand back up on your feet people will be there to knock you back down. When the Long Island Bridge shut down and shelters got shut down and detox centers got shot down and recovery houses got shut down, it is like somebody passed a law that nobody was going to be held accountable, that elected officials would get off scot free and insurance companies would get off scot free and the only people who would be left holding the bag are people who are trying as hard as they can to survive. So many mothers and sisters and daughters are dying because of a lack of addiction treatment services that it is like somebody passed a law. So we need ambassadors for Christ, people who refuse to abide by that law, who live by a different law, that anyone who wants to get sober deserves help doing it. We need ambassadors for Christ like Jonathan Scott of Victory Programs. Jonathan has been fighting every single day since October 8th when the Long Island Bridge was closed. He has been fighting every single day to restore the lost recovery beds so that people who are trying to turn their lives around get that chance.
Christians, we are called to be ambassadors for Christ and do extraordinary things, things so brave they leave those who witness them dumbfounded because it is like we are not playing by the same rules as everyone else, like we are not held back by the same assumptions as everyone else. It is almost like we are above the law, like we are free to do what is right. We are ambassadors for Christ, bound not by any laws fashioned by human imagination, but bound by the law of the love of God in Jesus Christ. Because like all ambassadors, though we may sojourn long in a foreign land, someday we will be called home. Someday we will be called back to our home country, called before the judgment seat of Christ and there be called to give an account of what we have done, an account of how we lived out the laws of the love of Christ. And we will be given recompense for what we have done, whether good or evil. Because we are ambassadors for Christ.