From the Pastor’s Desk: Rev. Simon Lee
Dear brothers and sisters of RCAC,
Transform and equip members to be “ambassadors for Christ”
The summer is over and many kids and young people are going back to School, at least those who have to or have chosen to return in person. This September’s return will be like no other, where most are not so excited about the prospects of “Back to School.” Many are filled with anxiety and apprehension because of the pandemic. Since March of this year, many students have not been able to return to their classrooms, and many parents have worked from their homes. But even as there are new outbreaks of the Coronavirus throughout the Province, we are trying to reopen for business, work and school, and there is no assurance that people can be safe. Now that we need to go back, the fear is greater than before since we cannot retreat to the safety of our homes like before.
This is the same for our Church. In anticipation of returning, we have put together a “Back to Church” (RTC) guideline which has effective since August 1, 2020. We have moved very cautiously and have worked with our guidelines and the guidelines of the Province. So we had weddings, staff meetings and summer children’s programs, all carried out carefully with the wearing of masks, physical distancing and sanitizations. However we as a Church, for the safety of the people that come to our facilities, is very much guarded with closed boundary. It is therefore all the more important that in this new normal, when we cannot gather and people cannot come to us, that we remember that the Church is you and I, as we are “ambassadors for Christ” to our community. This is in line with our second of our three new (renewed) strategies: Transform and equip members to be “ambassadors for Christ” (「基督使者」：轉化信徒人人皆兵).
What does it mean to be “Ambassadors for Christ”?
First of all, apart from our earthly citizenship, we Christians all have double citizenship, as Paul tells us, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20). As a member of Chinese Alliance Church in Richmond, BC, Canada, we have a more important identity as a citizen in heaven that transcends those areas. This citizenship is effective from the time we become a believer and enter the Kingdom of God and is baptised into the body of Christ, and become a member of a local Church.
But we are more than “citizens” of the heavenly Kingdom, we are “ambassadors.” Paul extends this analogy of citizenship to the fact that we are even “ambassadors for Christ.” “Now then,” he says, “we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God” (II Cor. 5:20). Here the Greek word translated “ambassador” is presbueo, which means “to act as a representative.” Being chosen as “ambassador” is a great honor. We are representing Christ the King on earth now that He is ascended into heaven and seated on the right hand of God.
We know that an ambassador of any government is the highest-ranking representative of his/her country abroad and his/her primary responsibility is to represent and advocate for his/her home country’s interest. This is a huge responsibility. Likewise, an ambassador for Christ represents Christ in the mission of the Kingdom of God, and in the ministry of reconciliation. We see this clearly in the Great Commission that Christ gave to all His disciples: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Mt. 28: 18-20) In short, all disciples of Christ have been commissioned with the authority of the Father through Christ to go to all nations to “make disciples,” in the power of the Holy Spirit. We are representing Christ to welcome “new citizens” to the heavenly kingdom!
Character of an Ambassador
An ambassador is a diplomat and should conduct himself/herself wisely. Paul tells us we must “walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil…do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Eph. 5:15). As to the character of an “ambassador for Christ”, Paul reminds us “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers” (Eph. 4:29) We’re told our speech should be “with grace, seasoned with salt” (Col. 4:6). Timothy is instructed by Paul with these words: “A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition” (II Tim. 2:24).
Wisdom is therefore the foremost character of an ambassador. Ambassadors need the wisdom of Solomon. King Solomon prayed to God for discernment, saying, “Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil” (I Kings 3:9). Centuries later, Paul wrote to Timothy that he must “be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Tim. 2:15). Indeed wisdom and discernment are qualities essential to being an “ambassadors for Christ.”
Last but not least, holiness and moral integrity also are important character of an “ambassador of Christ.” Peter wrote: “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.” (I Pet. 2:9-11) To a world that is walking in darkness can we bring light? As “ambassadors for Christ,” can we bring peace? As “sojourners and pilgrims” in a foreign land, can we be honourable witnesses to all who are looking for a better home. In the pandemic, can we bring hope, and how? (To be continued)
Your servant in Christ,
Pastor Simon Lee