Ambassadors Represent God's Government
Surely you don’t necessarily just go up to a person and tell them, “Look, you’re not acting like a Christian.” They obviously have to first say, “You may speak into my life.” Right?
Yes and no. :) If they claim to be a Christian then we don’t need their permission. God said we’re supposed to admonish one another daily so that none are hardened and deceived. It’s a command. “If you love Me, you’ll obey Me” (John 14:15; 23-24). The command is, “Bear one another’s burdens.” The command is, “Confess sins one to another.” So, I don’t need their permission because I already have God’s permission to speak into their life (Heb. 3:13; Gal. 6:2; James 5:16).
You should do that with wisdom and patience for sure, because you want to help them. You’re not trying to prove them wrong or “put them in their place.” You’re trying to find a way to take them away from the enemy. That may take patience, but I don’t need anybody’s permission to speak to them about God if they wear Jesus’ Name.
That’s what 1 Corinthians 5 says. Everyone who claims to be a brother but lives in sin—we’re to judge those people. “God will judge those outside; you’re to judge those inside.” That means we have work to do with anyone who “claims to be a brother.” That’s the exact quote: “Anyone who claims to be a brother” and lives in these sins—we’re to judge those. God will judge those outside. We’re to judge those inside.
By judgment, Paul didn’t mean that we’re mad at them or we pull away from them with anger or accusation. But we are to discern that there’s a problem and we do everything we can to help change it. We don’t need their permission to help them though, because if they call themselves a Christian, then they already signed up for it!
If they don’t like that, it would be like some worker saying in the morning when they go to work that it’s unfair of the company to expect them to go to work so early. “That’s totally unfair. No one better ever suggest that I have to work anytime before lunch. I have sleep to think about and there’s also the baby. I don’t like to get up so early because I’m not a morning person….” You wouldn’t say that, because you signed up for that job.
The point is that when we sign up to be a follower of Jesus, there are things in the Bible that we sign up for. “Unless you forsake your life you can’t be My disciple.” If someone says, “Oh, I’m His disciple,” but there’s no evidence that they’ve forsaken their life, then we’re responsible as ambassadors of Christ, as if God were making His appeal through us (2Cor. 5:20). “If any man speaks let him speak as the very oracles of God” (1Peter 4:11). We’re responsible as God’s ambassadors to represent His Government. That’s what an ambassador does, right? He represents an order or a law.
If I’m a U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, then when I come onto the grounds of the embassy, that’s actually United States territory, right? And the laws of the United States apply. Foreign ground may surround it, but the President of the United States is president of that embassy. That’s what every embassy is and where you get asylum. If you make it through the gates of the embassy, you’re safe because foreigners can’t follow you there, right? Well, the embassy and ambassador represent the government of whoever put them in that position. That means we represent the Government of God. We don’t have a right to change all of the rules and misrepresent the King of this Government that we’re part of.
As His ambassadors we make our appeal to those who wear His Name as if God were making the appeal. That’s what Paul said to the Corinthians—“As if God were making the appeal Himself.” Again, that doesn’t mean we’re bossy or pushy, but if they claim to wear Jesus’ Name then they signed up for it and they should expect that we’ll be rubbing noses a little bit. Iron sharpens iron. God commanded us, “Admonish one another daily.”
What if John, Fred or Sally says, “I don’t want to do that”?
Well, Jesus said, “If you love Me, you’ll obey Me.” So are you telling me that you don’t love Jesus? Is that what you’re saying? If you don’t love Jesus you’re not a Christian. In fact, Paul said, “A curse be on everyone who doesn’t love the Lord.” That’s in the New Testament (1Cor. 16:22). Jesus said, “If you love Me you’ll obey My commands,” so if you don’t want to obey His commands then I have to assume you’re not a brother. Don’t call yourself a Christian. You can visit amongst the saints, but don’t consider yourself a part of the saints.