For reasons that are beyond my own personal influence or control, I have found the topics of the messages so far this Feast of Tabernacles to be extremely practical and worthwhile. For the second split sermon today, for example, an elder from the Los Angeles area I do not happen to remember but who is involved in management at my alma mater gave a message on our responsibility as ambassadors of God’s kingdom, and he did so by comparing our responsibilities with those of an ambassador in our contemporary world from the United States, going to the State Department website  to download the responsibilities of an ambassador, of which the speaker focused on the last three (bolded below):
“The Chief of Mission — with the title of Ambassador, Minister, or Chargé d’Affaires — and the Deputy Chief of Mission head the mission’s “country team” of U.S. Government personnel. Responsibilities of Chiefs of Mission at post also include:
Speaking with one voice to others on U.S. policy–and ensuring mission staff do likewise–while providing to the President and Secretary of State expert guidance and frank counsel;
Directing and coordinating all executive branch offices and personnel (except for those under the command of a U.S. area military commander, under another chief of mission, or on the staff of an international organization);
Cooperating with the U.S. legislative and judicial branches so that U.S. foreign policy goals are advanced; security is maintained; and executive, legislative, and judicial responsibilities are carried out;
Reviewing communications to or from mission elements;
Taking direct responsibility for the security of the mission — including security from terrorism — and protecting all U.S. Government personnel on official duty (other than those personnel under the command of a U.S. area military commander) and their dependents;
Carefully using mission resources through regular reviews of programs, personnel, and funding levels;
Reshaping the mission to serve American interests and values and to ensure that all executive branch agencies attached to the mission do likewise; and
Serving Americans with professional excellence, the highest standards of ethical conduct, and diplomatic discretion.”
It so happens that the topic of yesterday’s teen bible study, which was going on at the same time as I was attending the young adult bible study , asked a question of teenagers: “How good of an ambassador are you?” For those teens who knew each other from school or their local congregations, the question was asked by the minister who gave the bible study as to how good others were as ambassadors, and the responses I heard at least were fairly polite. This sermon expanded that and asked the question to the three-hundred-odd people attending the Feast of Tabernacles in Steamboat Springs. There is a lot that I think about when it comes to being an ambassador, but there are a few aspects of the sermon that really hit home in all kinds of difficult and personal ways, as seems to be the case often in my life. I would like to discuss at least two of the awkward aspects of the sermon that were painfully relevant to my life before looking briefly at the passages of the Bible that detail our responsibility as an ambassador and examining that in the original context, as it relates to our own responsibility as believers here and now.
The first aspect of the sermon message that hit home to me personally was the discussion of how an ambassador has the responsibility to carefully use the resources given to them as a good steward. To be sure, he discussed this in an individual way, which I will discuss shortly, but this is true to an even greater extent on the congregational or institutional level. In a context where resources, specifically the talents and abilities of people, are limited to a great degree, the fact that ambassadors, as leaders of missions for an entire area (generally a country, though not in the original sense discussed in the Greek New Testament), are held responsible for the proper use of the resources given to them has serious implications. Specifically, it has the implication that those leaders who fail to properly develop and harness the skills of those under their charge, especially if those people have obvious and conspicuous abilities that are not being utilized, will be judged as poor stewards for failing to handle their logistical responsibilities as leaders in a particular congregation or institution. Likewise, to the extent that any of us are leaders, whether in families or businesses or churches, we cannot let petty matters prevent us from doing our best to cultivate and encourage the best character and development in those we are responsible for.
The second area of deep and painful personal relevance to my own life was the way that the elder talked about the importance of leaving a legacy for one’s children and one’s children’s children , and not only a financial legacy either. He said that a father had an important legacy to leave in his example, in his instruction, in his kindness, and in his love. I found that part of the message particularly difficult to listen to for two reasons. First, as a man who has no children, and who would very much like to have a family of my own in the right circumstances, I find it melancholy to hear about a state that I do not enjoy. Second, my own relationship with my father was a deeply complicated one, complicated by the fact that there were several deep barriers to a loving and open relationship between my father and I, some of them thanks to his own deep sins, and in his inability to openly acknowledge and apologize for them, setting a pattern where those who have wronged me the most often and the deepest have been unable or unwilling to confess their sins to me and seek reconciliation, a pattern that I find deeply troubling. Given that the role of an ambassador is to help bring the world into reconciliation with its Creator and Lord and God, this lack of reconciliation over and over and over again in my personal life is a matter of great distress and torment.
The passages of particular interest with regards to being an ambassador are the following:
2 Corinthians 5:18-21: “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
Ephesians 5:14-20: “Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”
We may see several obvious aspects from these passages. For one, being an ambassador of the Kingdom of Heaven is a lot like being an ambassador for the United States of America, in that we are supposed to represent our realm and to reconcile those places where we are sent to our home nation, so that the interests of our home nation may be best served by our discretion and our gracious dealing as diplomats. For another, unlike in the diplomatic courtesy of the nations of the earth, being an ambassador for the Kingdom of Heaven does not in any way grant one diplomatic immunity from the political troubles that our godly conduct may cause, including imprisonment or death, which are threats that some of our brethren have to face because they live in wicked realms that deliberately mock the ways of God. Yet, unlike contemporary ambassadors and like the ambassadors of the Roman Empire, we are not sent to sovereign realms but to those realms in rebellion that are being called to lay down arms or face irresistible force. For we are being trained to rule, and so the question “How good of an ambassador are you” is a matter of the utmost seriousness, for on the answer to it matters of eternity and our heavenly reward rely. Let us make sure we are the best ambassadors we can be, with all the help that God can provide to us.
 See, for example: