Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Diplomat's Dilemma

Suppose you were appointed ambassador to a foreign country. You would be called to represent your country in that other land. There are two mistakes you could make. You could so despise or look down on the inhabitants of the country you were ambassador to that you could not understand them or communicate with them. Or you could fall so much into the mind set of the people where you serve as an ambassador that you sympathize so much with them you could not represent your own country.
Christians have a similar dilemma. We are called to be ambassadors for the King of Kings (2 Corinthians 5:20). We are required to reach out to those in the world (1 Corinthians 9:19-23; 14:23-25; Luke 19:5-10), but we are also not to allow ourselves to be pressed into the mold of the world (Romans 12:2; Colossians 2:8; Galatians 1:10). This is what is referred to as being in the world and not of the world (see John 17:13-21). This is easy to talk about but hard to do. It does not help that there a tendency to slowly slip in both directions. We can slowly drift into our own Christian world and have a hard time reaching those outside. Or we can slowly slip into the world's way of thinking and away from Christ.

How do we live so as to avoid these extremes? First, it helps to understand that this is a difficult balance to maintain. This will steer us away from simplistic solutions and pat answers. There are many concepts such as Seeker Sensitivity which may have useful ideas to be considered in finding the right path. But we should cautious of making anything the final word on this subject. Also, we should be slow to judge or look down on those who take a different position on this subject than we do (see Romans 14:1-12).

We should also remember we are sinners in a sinful world saved by the grace of God. If we remember we are sinners saved by grace, we will be less likely to look down on the people around us and withdraw from them. If we remember we are sinners in a sinful world, we will be more careful not to be drug down into the world's way of thinking and acting. And if we avoid these opposite pitfalls, we will be better ambassadors of a loving God to a hurting world that needs Him.

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