A month or two ago, I met with a few people who represented an organization that I have been in proximity to for quite some time. This meeting did not leave me with a good picture of this organization. It left me with a bitter taste in my mouth, wondering whether it was my experience with this organization that was the truth, or the picture I had when I left this encounter. It has not been an easy question to answer, and even a couple of months removed from it I still don’t have an answer.
However, as I was thinking about it this past week it made me realize something. This group of people who I met with had represented this organization, and due to the interactions I had with them for a brief time they caused me to seriously cast doubt on the whole entity. In essence they were ambassadors or representatives of that organization and presented an image that was contrary to what I had experienced being in close proximity with this institution for about a decade. Even worse this comparatively minor encounter almost caused me to completely disregard my experiences prior to that, which were much more in quantity.
Why am I saying all this? Simply because it best give us pause to how we are representing what we stand for. At the pinnacle of this for me is being a Christian. In 2 Corinthians 5:20, we are labeled as ambassadors for Christ. This is a weighty claim. Our actions, attitudes, and hearts are going to be representing how people view Jesus Christ. At this point I think it is easy for us to throw our hands up at the news and media who zero in on those who call themselves Christian, but do not do very good as a representative of Christ. While that is damaging to our image, often times we can do the damage ourselves and try to redirect the blame. I think we give a bad image to who Jesus was when we tie Jesus too closely to politics, when we use Jesus or the Bible simply to gain moral high ground, when we ultimately forget that we were sinners too.
If Jesus primarily came and died so that we may have forgiveness from our sins, shouldn’t we as the ones who accepted him know of our sin more than anyone? Jesus didn’t come to create a political statement. He didn’t even come on his moral high horse (although he would have been far more justified than us). He came to die so that we may be forgiven and be given new life. Not simply so that we can live a great moral life, even though that will and should be part of the equation. However, as ambassadors of Christ are we to be focused on how moral we are or how much we have needed the forgiveness of God in our lives? To me it is the second much more than the first.
This doesn’t just begin and end with our being ambassadors of Christ. We are representing the various organizations, denominations, companies, and families that we are part of. Are we representing them well or are we the ones leaving bitter tastes in people’s mouths? This isn’t so much a call to be perfect in our representation of all things, but to be mindful of this. I think it is something we have lost along the way in our desire to focus solely on ourselves.
Also if you are one who has found themselves burned and a bitter because of some bad experience(s), do not judge all members of a group by a few. It is interesting that after my encounter that left me with that bitter taste, I have actually defended the group in honest belief that this was a rarity. I could be wrong, and time will tell I suppose, but I have experienced good as well. If my decade long experience is the rarity, well I’m still glad because they have been good ambassadors for their group even if the majority is not. That is what I strive to be both as a Christian and wherever I find myself associated with. I want to represent Christ and those around me as best as I can, even if I am in the minority in that attempt.