Most of us associate the word “apostle” with the New Testament disciples, but the term actually originated before Christianity. It stems from the Greek word apostolos meaning “one who is sent away” or “messenger.” You see, the Romans had a much higher goal in mind than to simply conquer the world. They desired to make the whole known world Roman, and one of their many methods of bringing Roman culture to the world included sending out an “apostolos.” Similar to our modern-day ambassadors (who are sent with a purpose), they were well-equipped and given authority by the government to demonstrate what it truly meant to be Roman.
Needless to say, it was a term that Jesus used to describe His disciples for a reason.
As apostles, Jesus’ disciples had a clear message of salvation to spread to the world; but they would have also understood that their mission included bringing about a new culture. Jesus wanted them to show the world what it was like to live as a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven. And just like the Romans, they would be well-equipped and given authority to carry out their duties as apostles.
As citizens and ambassadors of heaven, we carry a similar mission – to show the world what our King and His Kingdom are all about.
Six ways we sabotage our mission as ambassadors for Christ:
We judge and speak harshly towards those who haven’t surrendered their lives to Christ. The Bible tells us that apart from Christ we are slaves to sin – meaning, we can’t help but live in sin. Yet it’s easy sometimes to expect the world to live by biblical standards in spite of this fact. As Christians, we need to have the same heart Jesus had towards the lost. He had compassion on the fact that they needed a Shepherd to guide them. (Click here to read more about Jesus’ heart towards the lost.)
We keep to ourselves instead of spreading our message to the world. It’s easy for us as Christians to only spend time with other Christians. Yes, we need to have the support of other believers in our lives, but we also need to be out in the world spreading the love of Christ – and that means developing and nurturing relationships with those who need His love.
We neglect our prayer life. As ambassadors for Christ, we have a direct line of communication with our King 24 hours a day. It’s easy to think of prayer as something we do before a meal or before bedtime, but the truth is that we can (and should) talk to God throughout our day. Our prayers don’t have to be fancy. We can talk to God at any time because He is always with us.
We don’t walk the walk. Actions always speak louder than words. Our words matter, and we do need to be ready and willing to share the message of salvation. But our words won’t carry much weight if our actions don’t back them up.
We forget that we are called to be united. There’s a reason the Bible tells us time and time again to be united in the faith. We are part of one body, one faith, one Holy Spirit, and there is only one bride of Christ. But with a different church denomination on every corner, it’s easy to see Christians as anything but united. We are all citizens of the same Kingdom, and we all serve the same King. We don’t have to agree on every theological topic, but we do need to recognize that we are all part of the same family.
We’re afraid to stand out. Christians often try to blend in. (I’ve certainly been guilty of this.) Our churches try to be “culturally relevant.” We try to be “cool” around our non-Christians friends. But the truth is that a citizen of heaven should stand out. Different cultures have different customs, and we can’t demonstrate Kingdom culture to the world if we spend our time adapting to worldly customs.
We should respond differently than the rest of the world to crisis. Our work ethic should reflect our faith. And we should be ready and willing to forgive as God forgave us. In these ways (and more) we share our heavenly culture with the world.
Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News. – Philippians 1:27 (NLT)
The goal of the Roman “apostolos” was simple – bring Roman culture to the newly defeated territory so that if the emperor were to visit, he would feel at home.
Our King will one day return, and this is no time to be sleeping on the job.
Can you think of any other ways we sabotage our mission? How about ways we can succeed? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!