Unworthy Sinners Representing the King
Let me start off by saying this: if we love Jesus, we must learn to not make his commandments more difficult than they really are.
I am the only follower of Jesus in my family. I am a byproduct of divorced parents. Three of my siblings are not believers, and I have one Mormon sister. True salvation is a miracle, and the story God is writing for me is a testament to that. I’ve had to learn to be missional with my unbelieving family members. Here’s where I fail and where I’m learning.
When I first started believing that Jesus was who the Bible says he is and believed that I cannot live my life except through him, I was obnoxious! Not the good kind where you seep God’s love and people can’t help but be drawn to you. Instead, I sought every opportunity to bring my family’s sin and shame to the surface in hopes that they would believe in Jesus. Teasing, taunting, passively shaming, and being a bully was my strategy. It sounds ridiculous and pushy, and maybe as you read this, you are affirming how my approach was ineffective. I was lacking many things including grace and humility.
In order for me to live missionally, I had to understand that I am more like the people I minister to, than unlike them. I am just as much of a sinner as anybody walking on the street. You and I can’t be so focused on the mission of Jesus and ignore that we are just as desperate for the gospel and his grace every day. Humility and grace must be flowing in our veins. We can’t go into a conversation with any unbeliever thinking we have all the answers and that we are somehow more privileged than them. They are friends to walk with, not projects to fix.
Before we move forward, it’s imperative to note that avoiding the ethical teaching of Jesus while dismissing that there’s eternal punishment, is wrong. Christ is not just the Savior full of grace and love; he is the Judge. If we abandon good theology because we don’t like the implications, we become the Ephesians 4:14 kids, “tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (ESV). We are either a people of the Book or people of our own inclinations. There is no in-between. So, we need to study what God says so that we can give an account of ourselves (Romans 14:12).
In 2 Corinthians 5:20, the Apostle Paul defines what the mission ought to be: “We are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
God has appointed a position of majestic honor to unworthy sinners. Let the weight of that reality sink in. We are the unworthy sinners called to use our words and lives to accurately represent the King of kings who is not physically present. In the same way that Christ revealed the Father, we are called to reveal Christ.
The problem is, I’m either unaware of my opportunity, or I bring my own selfish interests to the conversation. Celebrate Recovery has taught me that most of my ineffective behaviors stem because I lack grace and understanding. Maybe the same is true for you as well. As a result, many of our conversations have little to no ambassadorial mission. I know that sometimes I have a hidden agenda deep in my heart that needs to be exposed and can only be exposed by the grace and truth of God’s Word. So, I read, pray, watch, ask for advice, and constantly learn to become aware of my sin, so that I can be an effective part of God’s calling in my life.
“But for every missed opportunity, there are new morning mercies for the next conversation. And for every selfish motive, there is rescuing grace that frees us from bondage to the kingdom of self and welcomes us again as an ambassador for the kingdom of God.” (Paul David Tripp)
Missional living is about intentionality and following up. I know that if I want my family members to love Jesus, they need to see why he’s so great. Guess who’s “oblitunity” it is to display that? It’s mine! What do I want for my family? Redemption. What do I want for my neighbors? Redemption. What do I want for my children? Redemption. What do I want for my coworkers? Redemption. What do I want for my friends? Redemption. And I want to play a part in that transformation.
Luke 6:45 says, “for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” By the tone of my voice, by the time I spend, by the love I share, I want to represent the one who has sent me. So, I listen, love, carry burdens, cry, laugh, spend quality time, share God’s Word, confront graciously, and display Jesus’ love in tangible ways. Praying over the phone with them, calling to check in, sending birthday gifts, inviting them over for dinner, standing firm in my convictions, and staying in touch is important. It may look different for you and that’s okay. Not every family is the same, so pray for discernment, grace, love, and patience as you share with boldness the beautiful story of redemption.
Let us not be afraid in our efforts. Scripture gives us the wisdom we need, and our always-present Messiah gives us the grace we need to be ready to respond to the 10,000 little moments of gospel opportunity he’ll send our way. God intends for you to give away the comfort and eternal security you’ve been given. The grace that has been so graciously given to us is meant to spill over into hope for the person next to you. What a plan! What a gift! What a Savior!