How do Christians interact with those who do not know Christ? That question has occupied the minds of God’s people throughout the ages. God in providing an answer to that question has filled the Bible with numerous word-pictures to help us understand our role in spreading the gospel.
One of the pictures that can be drawn from is that we are meant to be ambassadors for Christ. The apostle Paul used those very words in II Corinthians 5:20. In that verse he says “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” But an important question is who is the “we” in the text? I suppose it could be the apostles, or it could be a “royal-we” where the apostle is making reference to himself, but it seems in the context to extend to any who act on behalf of Christ and carry His message. That is exactly what an ambassador is - one who is sent as a representative of a sovereign power to a foreign land who then reflects that ruler’s official platform. What is the message of the king we represent? Paul tells us in II Corinthians 5:19 it is reconciliation! So, how are we to act in this foreign land that is this world? We are to represent the king and carry His desire for the world to reunited with their Creator – we are meant to be ambassadors.
There are a host of other illustrations we could examine (priests, fishers of men, light, salt), but I want to look an image that can be found in Ephesians 3:2, “if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you”. (NASB) When we think of a steward, we think of one of who is given charge of something that belongs to another. That is exactly how Paul saw himself, the grace that belonged to God was entrusted to him to give to others.
In the NKJV translation another English word used in lieu of stewardship and that is the word dispensation. That is one who is engaged in the action of dispensing God’s grace. It might put you in mind of a dispenser – a container that feeds out that which it contains. I think that is a wonderful image to consider as we think about evangelism or how to interact with the world. To truly be a dispenser two things must be true:
- You must be filled with that which you are to dispense. In the context of Ephesians 3 we are to be full of the grace of God, and if we have Christ, we have the grace of God. John wrote in 1:16 “For His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.” Paul wrote in Ephesians 1:6-8 “to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight”.
- It is that very grace we are to dispense. Paul wrote concerning himself this very idea in Ephesians 3.8-9, “ To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and make all know what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things”.
How to interact with the world? Allowing God’s grace to fill us and then flow us to others! As Paul wrote, “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.”