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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Embassy Christianity

When living abroad, a person is bound by the laws of the country in which he lives. But when he enters the American embassy located in that country, he is bound to obey the laws of the United States for as long as he is in the embassy compound. This makes sense when living in a foreign country. But it is dangerous when we take the same approach in our religious life. There are many in our secular world today who believe that religion is a private personal matter which shouldn’t affect the rest of our lives. While we can live for God on Sunday, we should not let our religious faith affect the rest of the week. They expect us to live as embassy Christians: following the laws of God while at church but following the laws of society when outside of church. This view has even led some to desire to replace freedom of religion with freedom of worship. We can worship as we want, but make sure to keep our religion on the sidelines, where it is ineffective in our daily life. The results of such thinking, as noted in various surveys, show that the lifestyles of many Christians are practically the same as society at large. The only real difference is that Christians may attend church on Sunday.

I wonder how many of us have succumbed to this approach in our relationship with God. Do we order our lives after the pattern of the world for the majority of our lives? But then for one hour on Sunday (0.6% of our week), we switch to following God? This attitude can be called embassy living. Others have coined it as “living for God on Sunday and for the Devil the rest of the week.”

While it is true that as the Apostle Peter says, we are strangers and aliens here on earth, God does not want us to have an embassy mentality. He wants our total allegiance 24 / 7. He calls us to holiness. As citizens of his kingdom, we are bound by his laws and commands. He calls us to be a part of a redemptive community that lives in and reaches out to a fallen world. We are to be, as the Apostle Paul says, ambassadors for Christ.
An ambassador is the representative of the government whom he serves. In effect, he is an extension of that government. He has the responsibility to faithfully serve those he represents. He doesn’t represent his country only when on the embassy grounds. Wherever he goes, whatever he does, he represents his country. His every action is governed by his reflection upon its effect on the country he serves.

As Christians, we are to have the same type of attitude. Wherever we go, whatever we do, God expects us to be his ambassadors. All of our actions should be governed by the question of how aligned they are with the desires of our King. As representatives of His kingdom, we are to represent Christ to the world. We are to be incarnational Christians, living Christ-like lives. Anyone who sees us should see Christ. He expects us to live this way day in and day out. It is only through incarnational living that we will have an impact upon the world. God does not want us to be embassy Christians. He wants us to fully represent Him here on earth. How do you live your life? Do you live your life as an ambassador or as an embassy Christian?

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