June 25, 2009

Our behavior as ambassadors


have lived most of my life in the shadow of Washington, D.C. Living in the nation’s capitol brings a mixture of many benefits and many things that are not so beneficial. I try to focus more often on the beauty of the district and the many educational and cultural things it has to offer. But today I am reminded of one of the negative sides of living near Washington, D.C.—the foreign ambassadors.

Although we have not heard recently about any serious problems with foreign ambassadors, living near them is a constant reminder that many of these folks live as though they are above the law. They drive at high rates of speed around the city, they often park in no parking zones, they pass the other cars backed up on the street by driving into oncoming traffic or by driving down the sidewalk or even across the grass.

And you can spot them quite easily because their cars are often emblazoned with stickers of their national flags and their license plates always say Diplomat. Unfortunately, quite often their behavior would not be described as “diplomatic”.

2 Corinthians 5:20

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

So as I was reading this morning in Matthew 17 about the need to be good citizens and pay our taxes I noticed a cross reference to 2 Corinthians 5:20. I looked it up. And it struck me that what Jesus was explaining to Peter in the Matthew passage, is also being addressed in 2 Corinthians. We need to be good citizens while we live as ambassadors in a foreign land.

Our citizenship is not here on earth. We are ambassadors of the kingdom of heaven. But we are encouraged by our king to follow the local laws so that we will not become a stench to the people of this land. If we become a stench, the message our king has sent us to proclaim gets lost and obscured by our bad behavior.

Christians have a reputation for many things that are not good. We are known for leaving bad tips, for acting egotistical, for not following the laws that pertain to the workforce and the fire and safety laws. Many Christian leaders even defend such misbehavior by saying that “as a tax-exempt organization we are not bound by the same laws.”

This is not the way to be winning ambassadors. May we all strive to be good citizens as we sojourn in this foreign land.


  1. This past year we have had a car with, what are often referred to as, diplomatic plates, as the vast majority of people who have them are here as ambassadors or in other diplomatic position.

    And, as you have indicated, my license plate makes people take notice. It has actually been quite comical to watch people stare at us when we're at the train station in the morning to drop my husband off. They are probably wondering if they should know us!!

    For me it has been a daily reminder that I am a guest in this country and has actually made me more careful in my driving, parking, etc. as I don't want to give a bad impression. Of course, there is no indication of what country I am from, just that I am a visitor. It has also reminded me of the need to live as an ambassador of Jesus no matter what country I'm in!

    I wrote a blog entry awhile ago from the point of view of one having diplomatic plates on their car.

  2. http://psthimsen.blogspot.com/2008/11/ambassadors.html

    Thanks, Mrs. T. It's interesting that both of us were struck with that same responsibility. It's good to know that the same Holy Spirit is at work in each of us every day, working hard at the job of sanctification.

    OH ... and I probably should have said in this post that the bad behavior I described does not apply to everyone with diplomat plates. In fact, I have seen many such plates on cars driven by responsible drivers. We just tend to notice that bad drivers more.


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