In the fourth installment of our Crux of the Matter series, where we’re looking at how to have difficult conversations with those we disagree with, Osheta furthers the discussion by inviting us to think about our everyday conversations as opportunities for peacemaking as Ambassadors of the Kingdom of God.
“Ambassador” is not a term we often think of or even imagine ourselves as, but our passage in 2 Corinthians teaches us that we both have the calling and ministry of Ambassadors of the Kingdom. In this message, Osheta teaches why we need to love others, die to always being right, and never give up hope when we have disagreements about politics.
Osheta begins the sermon by telling about a book club meeting that went wrong. Because of a plot point that surrounds a controversial topic, the meeting turned into a fight over politics and policies, one where Osheta left feeling discouraged, disappointed and thinking, “Why do we have to get so angry around politics, and is there any place we can go to avoid this topic?” In today’s highlight polarized political climate, this is highly unlikely. So, she decided to reframe the way she thinks about herself as a Kingdom person to a Kingdom Ambassador: A follower of Jesus who wants to reflect the values of the Kingdom of God here on earth as it is in heaven.
Osheta helped us first reframe the way we think about politics. It’s neither red or blue, liberal or conservative, but the rather neutral definition from the Greek word politiká, as how we arrange our livest together as citizens.
One of the reasons there is so much conflict around politics is that many people form their politics around core values because that’s how we imagine we shape our lives together as citizens, around common core values. These core values are: worth, belonging, purpose, security, freedom, justice, hope.
This is why two people from two very different sides can site worth or freedom or even purpose as their core value that drives their political position. When we get our sense of worth and identity from our positions, when protecting policies or parties becomes our agenda, then things can get out of hand… like the book club, or social media everyday.
As Kingdom people, we need to be mindful of these core values that drive people, but we must not shape how we talk about politics around them. We have a different primary value: To arrange our lives together as citizens of the Kingdom of God and reflect its culture is revealed by Jesus’ example of love on the cross.
How do we live this out, and what does it mean to be a Kingdom Ambassador? To guide us, we looked to 2 Corinthians 5:14-20
For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that One died for all, therefore all died. And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one according to the flesh. Although we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away. Behold, the new has come!
All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s trespasses against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
From this passage we’re taught that we’re called to value the love of Christ, the willingness to die to ourselves as modeled by Christ, and the joy of reconciliation. Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ.
In our everyday lives we have no reason to think of ourselves as ambassadors, because it’s usually attached to a role of a politician or a specific diplomat. Generally speaking, an ambassador is a respected official acting as a representative of a nation. Sent to a foreign land, the ambassador’s role is to reflect the official position of the sovereign body that gave him authority.
Osheta taught us that ambassadors actually live into their calling everyday, so as Kingdom Ambassadors, we carry the culture of the Kingdom of God everywhere we go. Kingdom Ambassadors are called at to reflect the Kingdom’s agendas at all times.
The culture of the Kingdom of God is defined by Jesus’ example on the cross: His love, his selflessness, and the hope of resurrection. This shaping our lives around the cross of Jesus is called cruciformity and we can reflect our Kingdom’s culture in one profound way… in our conversations. At this highly volatile time, we have a unique opportunity to be ambassadors is in the ways we talk to people we disagree with — especially when it comes to politics.
Osheta gave us three Kingdom Agendas for the Kingdom Ambassadors:
Kingdom Agenda #1: Seek to Love First
Re-humanize the person you’re speaking to, at all costs.
Kingdom Agenda #2: Step Down, Lean In
This is a picture of dying to ourselves.
Being “right” is not the primary end goal for a Kingdom Ambassador. We die to that. We no longer get our lives from our rightness, we get our lives from our right-relatedness to God, and from that overflow we seek the right relatedness of others.
Our posture as Kingdom Ambassadors should be to step back from getting our life from our political view or ideas, step back from blaming and shaming, step back from judging, and lean in. Lean in to learn. Lean in to listen. Lean in to offer the ministry of presence, because the person who you are talking to is beloved.
Kingdom Agenda #3: Never Give Up Hope
Our hope is in seeing the beauty of the Kingdom flourish around us, so we choose to interact with people we disagree with because we are called to remind them of their goodness and value to God. We are called to be peacemakers, and where is the opportunity to make peace if we’re in an echo chamber surrounded by people who we agree with? We honor the Prince of Peace when we engage in conversations that feel uncomfortable, that may challenge us, that will force us to die to our pet policies or positions, because this is the way of the cross… for the joy set before him, Jesus endured the cross! What was the joy set before Jesus: Relationships, unity, inviting us into a life-giving relationship so that we can know our immeasurable worth to a God who loves us with an unstoppable love.
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