Neighbors + Ambassadors

hillside Empower

“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us” [i]


THE BIG PICTURE

 
As Pastor Dave likes to start, here is “the big picture” laid out in Scripture;
 
Each of us is becoming somebody…
 
With every passing year, comes a new season of life. Your responsibilities change, you get a new job, you move to a new state, maybe you get married, and even have children! Next thing you know, you are retired, settled down, and the kids have moved out.
 
All this time, you are becoming somebody. The question is, who? As followers of Jesus, we actually have an answer to that question.
 
When our faith, by grace, is placed in Jesus as Lord, we are forgiven of our sins and promised eternal life in His presence [ii]. This is called justification [iii]. And it is really good news!
 
With justification comes what scripture calls, sanctification. This is when we are guided by the power of the Holy Spirit, living within us, to live in a more harmonious and pure relationship with God Himself [iv]. And it takes a lifetime.
 
Justification and sanctification both come together as gifts given to us only through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross [v]. Because of Jesus, we are becoming more fully in tune with God and will one day be with him forever and our relationship with God with will be full and untainted by sin. This is glorification [vi].
 

THE SMALL PICTURE

 
Now here is the smaller picture;
 
Each of us is a neighbor…and each of is an ambassador.
 
Each day we are surrounded by people. Family, friends, co-workers, baristas, barbers, fellow H-E-B shoppers, and even our literal next-door neighbors. Whether or not they live in the home next to yours, each person we interact with daily is our neighbor…and we are theirs.  
 
Who are those people who come to mind?
 
Not only do we interact with them as neighbors, but we also interact as ambassadors.
 
You see, ambassadors are meant to represent one nation to another. The picture Paul paints in the New Testament points to the fact that people are either in the kingdom of this world, or the kingdom of Christ; therefore, wherever we go, we are representing one of these kingdoms to each other [vii].
 
If you are a follower of Jesus, you are also an ambassador of Jesus…a representative to a lost and hurting world [viii].
 
For many of us, our interactions with those we see daily may be friendly. Maybe you know that person’s name, or even their kid’s names. In fact, you may even know their dog’s name! But anything past that can quickly get messy because people are messy. Opening up our lives to invest in others is risky. 
 
Entering into another person’s story and developing deep relationships with someone new is often difficult and inconvenient. Which is exactly what Jesus has done for us, right? He loved us enough to call us out of darkness into light. He then invites us as a part of his family, his nation, to be ambassadors of the Gospel to those still living in darkness.
 
Each of us is becoming a neighbor…
 
Each day, as we grow in unity with God himself, we are also called to grow in love for those God has placed in our path. Jesus empowered us with the Spirit to do exactly this.
 
So, what if we began praying for opportunities to enter into the lives of our neighbors who are far from Jesus?
 
What if your best response as Christ’s ambassador was to simply invest in a new friendship?
 
Or to begin sharing your story of how Jesus Changed Everything to those already close to you?
 
These are incredibly bold and difficult steps for many of us…so start with one.
 

THE POWER OF ONE

 
Our calling as neighbors and ambassadors starts today, and it starts with one. One person that God would have us pray for, invest in a new friendship with, or even invite to know Jesus.
 
This person may be an acquaintance you’ve had for 30 years, a co-worker you know nothing about except that he is from Wisconsin, the neighbor with the extremely loud yappy dog, or even someone under the same roof as you.
 
Start with one.
 
Pray that the Spirit would give you the wisdom and courage to love and invest in that person, and just maybe we will begin to see Jesus change everything in the lives of our neighbors.
 

THE CHALLENGE

 
Grab one of the TOP 5 cards here, or in the Hillside Lobby. Begin filling it in, one name at a time, with names of those who are far from Jesus. These are the people you will pray for, invest in a friendship with and invite to know Jesus themselves.
 
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[i] 2 Cor 5:20
[ii] Eph 2:8-9, John 3:16
[iii] Rom 3:28, 5:1, 8:30
[iv] 1 Cor 6:11, Eph 4:22-24, Heb 13:20-21
[v] 1 Cor 6:11, Rom 8:29-30
[vi] Rom 8:30
[vii] 2 Cor 16-21, Col 1:13-14
[viii] 2 Cor 5:20, Eph 6:20