Breakfast, your Excellency?
We were quite surprised, to say the least, when our first bed & breakfast guest of the season last week turned out to be the Argentine ambassador to the UK!
Perhaps we might have guessed from what in hindsight was probably a diplomatic number plate attached to a very expensive vehicle but it was only as he was leaving that we learned of his identity. He is in fact due to take retirement and was enjoying a tour of some of the UK prior to returning home next month. We were quickly curious to Google him and found details of his usual place of residence in Belgrave Square, a most prestigious corner of London. We introduced our next guests to 'the ambassadorial suite' when they arrived!
Paul writes to the Corinthians about being an ambassador for Christ and by implication suggests we who share in this ministry of reconciliation fulfil a like role. I have been interested to read what Bible commentator Albert Barnes says about being an ambassador:
An ambassador is a minister of the highest rank, employed by one prince or state at the court of another, to manage the concerns of his own prince or state, and represent the dignity and power of his sovereign...He is sent to do what the sovereign would himself do were he present. At all times, and in all countries, an ambassador is a sacred character, and his person is regarded as inviolable. He is bound implicitly to obey the instructions of his sovereign, and as far as possible to do only what the sovereign would do were he himself present...[An ambassador should] go to transact the business which the Son of God would engage in were he again personally on the earth.
We are called as 'citizens of heaven', in this world but not of it, to represent the cause of another kingdom, to represent the person of our Prince. In this regard we are afforded a great honour but we are also invested with significant authority. I'm reminded of the centurion whose faith staggered Jesus: I also am a man under authority. Though relative to Caesar a lowly figure, he nonetheless represented the might of Rome: under authority he could act with authority. To act, to pray, to speak in Jesus' name should inform and define both our calling and character.
To represent the Kingdom, to herald it and, in one sense, to embody it, is the highest of appointments. And there is no retirement on the horizon...