The supreme, infinite God has chosen us feeble, finite humans as His earthly representatives.
We, the citizens of Heaven, have been given an important mission by the King Himself: to be ambassadors of Christ in the world (2 Corinthians 5:20). Since His Son returned to the Kingdom, the King no longer has a physical representation on Earth, so we must take the Son’s place. This is a great honor because we not only get to represent the God of the Universe, but the more we imitate Him, the more we resemble Him.
This, however, is no simple task, as the “god” of this world (Satan, 2 Corinthians 4:4) has ways of influencing the heavenly citizens, and if we’re not careful, we might forget this mission and assimilate into their culture instead (1 Peter 5:8); this can have dire consequences, as the more we adopt the world’s culture (which is contrary to Heaven’s culture), the more we act like worldly citizens. So we must remember that we are here to influence the world and not the other way around.
This idea of representing God is part of Robbie’s sermon on “Missional Living”, which is how we must live: as missionaries who don’t separate our “secular” and “sacred” lives. Missional Living also includes representing Jesus, and since we are representatives of Him, we must show the world His characteristics (only the ones which we humans can actually imitate. There’s no way we can display God’s omnipresence to others, for instance). We do this by adopting a “heavenly” lifestyle:
Dressing in Heaven’s clothing
We must wear the attire of the Kingdom to show how our fashion differs from the world’s. Now, I’m not necessarily referring to clothing when I say “attire”; I’m actually referencing Revelation 19:8, which says that “it was granted [the Church] to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure – for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.”
By being clothed in righteousness, we are showing the world how we, the citizens of Heaven, conduct ourselves: in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc (The fruits of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22-23). Worldly citizens will notice how different our attire is from their sinful garments, and also how much more attractive it is.
We must also keep in mind how we dress in actual clothing, as the world prefers fashion which the King would deem to be immodest. Therefore, in order to rightly represent Him, we must avoid dressing inappropriately and in a way which shows respect to Him.
Speaking the country’s language
We must use heavenly speech to show the world how the citizens of the Kingdom converse. Speaking with truth and love, and avoiding bad speech, will show the world how the King desires we speak to each other (Ephesians 4:29, 5:4, 2 Timothy 2:16). Also, speaking with optimism, hope, and gratitude when times are rough will show the world that our King is always in control and that we have much to be grateful for, since we believe “all things work together for good” (Romans 8:28).
Practice Heaven’s customs
We the citizens of the Kingdom have different social norms than those of the world (in addition to how we “dress” and speak), and it’s our job to display these norms to the world. This is achieved by living in ways which show glory to our King: joyful living, excellent work ethic, giving generously, etc.
This also includes avoiding sin and worldly influences, for we should strive to be holy (set apart from sin), just as our King is holy (1 Peter 1:16). We also run the risk of being influenced by the world, and the King has little use for “worldly” representatives.
By living differently, we are showing the world a purer lifestyle, one which gives joy, fulfillment, and an escape from spiritual bondage.
Recruiting others to the Kingdom
Not only are we to represent the King in this foreign country, but we must also tell others about the King’s ability to free them from their earthly struggle (Matthew 28:19-20, Mark 16:15); this “good news” also includes His ability to change their citizenship, so that when the time comes, they will be welcomed into the Kingdom.
This is actually our primary mission since the world cannot know about the Kingdom unless they were told about it (Romans 10:14). Therefore, we must we must carry out this task with utmost importance, and remember that we are not told to change anyone’s citizenship (only the King has that power), but to merely tell them the “good news”.
Although we might attract some of the world while representing God, others may feel guilty of their own sins; then, they may show resentment and animosity towards us because of our words and actions. Don’t let this discourage you when it happens. Their animosity towards us might actually be from their feelings about God, and not about you (John 15:18-19). When this happens, there’s nothing we do but to pray for their peace.
It’s a very high calling to represent the King of the Universe, and it’s no easy task when we work in a world which hates Him, but the King will give us the strength and power to achieve this great feat. When we “dress”, speak, and act like citizens of Heaven, the world will notice and will give glory to God (Matthew 5:16, 1 Peter 2:12). Besides telling others about the Kingdom, representing the King is our most important mission towards the world, and we must represent Him in everything we do (Colossians 3:17).
So, the next time you’re around others, remember your job as a representative, and Whom you’re representing.