In spending a bit of time today watching the electoral college vote on C-SPAN, something I have never had cause or reason to do before today since it has usually been far less dramatic, I was reminded of childhood in many ways. To take the example of Michigan’s vote, there was the reciting of the pledge of allegiance, the singing of the national anthem, the various invocations and resolutions and discussions. There was the enjoyment of the rituals of civics, the reminder that our United States is a representative federal republic and not a direct democracy, where each state has its own personality and its own standards and its own distinct identity even as we are all Americans . It was as a child, having been born outside of Pittsburgh but having been raised in rural central Florida, that I was first forcefully introduced to the reality that we were not a unified nation culturally, and that I was clearly not the same culturally as my neighbors, who recognized me as an outsider and were quite unhappy about it.
The decline of civility within our contemporary culture can be gauged by how much pressure the electors were under this year from those who wished to oppose the process. Despite this unprecedented pressure, including death threats and continual calls and messages from corrupt activists, by and large the electors appear to have cheerfully done their duty in the best way that they know how, with their ceremony and ritual, with resolutions and the a focus on a task that they do according to form and procedure. That is how those people who dislike facing immense scrutiny and opposition handle it, by doing their best to ignore the shrill voice of hostility and go about their ordinary business. In ordinary times, that is often enough, but the same people who fill positions and who relish in the faithful execution of ordinary business often struggle to recognize when times have changed and business is no longer going on as normal or as usual. It can be easy for such people to feel nostalgic about the days when there were fewer problems than there are at present, but all we can do is faithfully discharge the duties that we have been given in this life.
For let us make no mistake, the times we live in are very dangerous. Just today, for example, we read of the assassination of the Russian ambassador to Turkey, two nations that have recently been involved in a lot of difficulties  over the Syrians and Kurds. Whatever our feelings might be about the electoral college and the roles of electors, most of the people I know who do not consider themselves particularly political consider the role of ambassador to be of the utmost importance. Our nation itself lost an ambassador to attack only a few years ago in the chaos of post-Gaddafi Libya, an act which caused a great deal of political turmoil within our republic. It should come as little surprise that the death of other nations’ ambassadors similarly causes issues, and since Turkey is judged as being a relatively safe nation (if you’re not Armenian or Kurdish), the expectations of safety for ambassadors is accordingly higher. Ambassadors and people who serve in any kind of roles in civil service do their job and they and everyone expects everything else to be safe.
Many people appropriate the role of ambassador from what is said in the scriptures relating to the context of Roman authority. 2 Corinthians 5:18-21, for example, says: “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.” It is our duty as God’s ambassadors of a rebellious world to aid in reconciling mankind to God and God’s ways. This is by no means an easy task, but in the face of coming judgment, God has announced a pardon for those who seek to turn to Him and turn from their wicked ways. Am ambassador speaks on behalf of a sovereign state, in this case the Kingdom of heaven, giving people a choice between surrender or destruction. It is the choice of those who are hostile to that kingdom to decide how they wish to treat the ambassador they have been sent, knowing that their nation will be held responsible for how they treat ambassadors.
Interestingly enough, in the Roman Empire, there were multiple offices that were given the title of legatus. One of those was a legatus legionis, who was a legate in charge of one of Rome’s elites legions within a potentially restive province. This office was held by a person of senatorial rank, even to the point of attracting present and ex-consuls because of the lucrative benefits such officers received in victory. The other form of legatus was a diplomatic position to foreign realms. Which sort of legatus are we as Christ’s ambassadors? Certainly God does not conceive of there being any realm in His creation outside of His proper rule. There is nothing in the universe that does not belong to Him by right of creation and lordship, which means that if we are the legates of God, we are those officers tasked with dealing with internal rebellious provinces like the Earth and not with foreign relations. Our understanding, therefore, of what office we hold as ambassadors therefore needs to change from the model we see of external relations to a model based on internal relations where we come as the emissaries of a realm that will put down the rebellion among the people here, and where those people have the choice to lay down their arms in peace or deal with the serious and inevitable repercussions of rebellion against the Kingdom of God. Will we faithfully discharge the duties given to us in the face of the widespread hostility of a rebellious planet?
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