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Ambassadors of Heaven: Heavenite’s Guide to Life on Earth, Pt 1

In 2011 Libya was becoming increasingly volatile. Al-Qaeda terrorist groups were unhappy about the presence of foreign ambassadors in Libya. Soon their threats escalated to violence.

In April 2012, an improvised explosive device was lobbed over the wall of the US consulate; four days later a UN envoy was unsuccessfully attacked in Benghazi. Since no one was injured, the UN decided to maintain its diplomatic presence in Libya, as did the US and the UK.

Then in May, al-Qaeda affiliates attacked a Red Cross station, and in June, a rocket-propelled grenade hit the convoy of British Ambassador Dominic Asquith, injuring his security officers. The UK evacuated its ambassador and all diplomatic staff. However, the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, decided to retain a presence in Libya, so Ambassador Chris Stevens stayed on in the consulate at Benghazi despite many warnings that the state of affairs was becoming too dangerous.

Then it happened. On September 11, 2012, terrorists attacked the CIA base and the Diplomatic Compound. Unable to breach the consulate’s security, the attackers set the building on fire. Four Americans were killed in the attack, including Ambassador Stevens. He was the eighth US Ambassador to be killed in office.

The Kingdom of Heaven has outposts on Earth, like embassies, or consulates. We call them churches. And they are manned by the brave men and women who function as ambassadors for Christ in a dark and dangerous world. But no matter how scary it gets, we have a job to do.

And that job description is spelled out for us in John 17. In our series on the High Priestly Prayer (today is part 4), we have seen Our Man InsideHow Not to Die, and Impostor Syndrome and the Glory of God. For the next three weeks we will consider…

7 ELEMENTS OF BEING AN AMBASSADOR OF HEAVEN SO WE WILL REPRESENT OUR HOMELAND WELL

1. THE HEAVENITE’S IDENTITY

John 17: 8-11For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them.  And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you.

People often define their identity by the group they are in— gender, race, economic bracket, political affiliation, or even the college they attended, or the sports team their family grew up supporting.

When you become a Christian your whole identity becomes embedded in Christ himself. The Bible speaks of us being “in Christ,” and having “died to the world and made alive in Christ.” You are given a new nature, a new heart, new desires, a new world view, and a new life.

And the Bible describes this as a new citizenship… Phil 3:20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ…

As a Christian you live in this world, but this world is not your homeland. We are foreigners, aliens. We live here, but we don’t belong here. We are not earthlings, we are Heavenites.  

When you become a Christian, no matter your upbringing, nationality, race, culture, language, gender, or economic status… your identity is in Christ.

This citizenship comes with duty and security…

2. THE HEAVENITE’S DUTY

John 17:11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you.

Jesus didn’t take his apostles with him. And he doesn’t take you out of the world when you get saved. He leaves us here, like he left them here. Why? Because we have a duty to fulfill while Jesus is off the planet.

John 17:18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.

We are to be his representatives, his sent ones, his ambassadors.

Our duty as Heavenites on earth is to be ambassadors of Christ, to continue his work of reconciling the world to himself, by appealing to it through the gospel.

That’s why we are here and not in our Heavenly homeland: so that we can make more worshippers!

Ambassadors live in a foreign country so that they can represent their government’s interest abroad. Christ’s interest in this world is to save earthlings and give them a Heavenite citizenship to make the Father’s glory known to more and more people…

How are you doing as an ambassador for Christ at your place of work?

Do you think God gave you your job, your home, your business, your acquaintances, for your sake? For your enjoyment and comfort and ease?

Or is it possible that he placed you where you are for the purpose of representing his interests in your workplace and neighborhood and family?

Well, if you do your job right, people might not like you as much, in fact you might get into trouble.

Yes. That brings us to…

3. THE HEAVENITE’S SECURITY

John 17:11-12 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.

You are never in danger of losing your Heavenly citizenship, the Father is more than capable of keeping his Son’s Bride safe.

But there is that one lingering exception that niggles at our theology: what about Judas?

This prayer is being prayed the same night that Judas shared a meal with Jesus and then became possessed by Satan (John 13:27) and scurried off into the dark to go arrange the arrest and betrayal of Jesus.

In the prayer Jesus addresses this specifically:

John 17:12While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.

The security of Judas was never guaranteed because he was never one of Christ’s saints. He was an imposter. A double agent.

He was invited into the inner circle of Christ, shown every kindness and every miraculous proof, and heard every word of Christ, and given every opportunity to repent. And yet he got fed up with not getting the power he craved, he sided with the wicked pharisees, and he traded the Savior for filthy lucre.

And when he realized his error, instead of repenting and begging for mercy, he ended his miserable life on his own miserable terms.

And all of this was decided, destined, and predicted centuries before it happened…

Ps 41: 9Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.

Now, you might think, “Poor Judas; he didn’t stand a chance. He was destined to hell before he ever did anything good or bad.” But that is not true. Judas wasn’t a good guy who really wanted to be a Christian but Jesus said ‘No you have to be a bad guy so I can get crucified.’

Judas was a deceptive, manipulative, greedy, power-hungry, Satanist, who snuck in and duped everyone, …except Jesus. He chose to sin and chose not to repent.

But if you want to be saved, you can be. And if you are saved, your security is iron-clad. You are guarded by God himself. He will hold you fast.

CONCLUSION

After the Benghazi attacks and the death of the Chris Stevens many were blamed for not evacuating the Ambassador sooner. But there was one piece of testimony that came out in the investigations that was striking to me.

Ambassador Stevens’ deputy, Gregory Hicks, who was very close to Stevens, testified that the Ambassador was fully aware of the danger of remaining in Libya, but that he desired to stay as “a symbolic gesture to the people of Benghazi that the United States stood behind their dream of establishing a new democracy.”

The Ambassador knew of the danger, but remained committed to a higher goal, one he ultimately gave his life for.

In the same way being an ambassador of Christ comes with risks and dangers. We may end up in trouble because of our calling, but we need to remain committed to the higher goal of God’s glory and his fame spread throughout earth, until we get to our homeland, with the other Heavenites.

Originally Published on thecripplegate.com at http://feeds.thecripplegate.com/~r/TheCripplegate/~3/aS12olnxSks/

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