“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
(2 Corinthians 5:20 ESV)
“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
(Ephesians 4:1–3 ESV)
An ambassador is a representative that operates in an official capacity. Paul describes his preaching as an embassy (TDNT). Although the authority rests in the message, the messenger’s life must agree with the message because they function as the mouthpiece of God. A person speaking on Christ’s behalf must live a Christ-like life. Christian leaders must understand that their behavior and teachings are influencing people and shaping their ideas about God. It is sobering to think that the only knowledge of God that some people have is what they’ve learned from watching believers.
The concept of calling is also an important one in scripture. Frequently the prophets reminded the Israelites that they were “called” by God to reveal Him to the world (Isaiah 41:9, 42:6, 43:1, 44:2, 45:3-4; Hosea 11:1). Christians, likewise, have a calling from God, as is evident with the Lord’s disciples (Mark 1:20), the Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 1:1), and the Gentiles (Ephesians 3:6). (NIGTC)
A Right Representation
It is crucial to remember that our behavior as Christians reflects on God. You are not your own; you were bought with a price. God spent thousands of years teaching this to the Israelites. The priests were expected to sanctify the Lord in the eyes of the people. Their conduct before God conveyed that God is holy and is not one with which people can trifle. God is to be reverenced as our Creator.
The demons believe and tremble because they know who God is. The angels reverence God because they know who He is. Have you ever read of an elect angel or a demon cracking a joke about God or the things of God? Of course not. Why did the demons fall at Jesus’ feet? They knew God was omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent.
Sanctify the Lord in the Eyes of the People
An old-time preacher once said that God never uses a jester to search consciences. In the Old Testament, God called Moses, Aaron, and their associates (the Levites) to perform a living demonstration for the people. Their lives were to be a revelation of the Kingdom of God where everyone was in total submission to the King. Disobedience and nonsense were utterly intolerable. When Moses was dying, God reminded him by saying:
For ye rebelled against my commandment in the desert of Zin, in the strife of the congregation, to sanctify me at the water before their eyes: that [is] the water of Meribah in Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin. (Numbers 27:14)
Moses was a great man of God like few others, but he was expected to obey the voice of God to the letter and thereby walk worthy of his calling. Unfortunately, by Moses’ disobedience, he conveyed the notion to the people that they could also disobey God if they got angry or under pressure. He had been a bad example at a critical moment, and God could not tolerate it.
A Lost Idea
Sadly, the idea that we need to sanctify the Lord in people’s eyes is almost nonexistent. There is an ungodly arrogance and carelessness today regarding God and the things of God caused by an extreme emphasis on God’s love, mercy, and grace. Distorting God in this way is idolatrous and leads to sinful and dangerous behavior. Paul warned the carnal Corinthians:
We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.” (1 Corinthians 10:9–11 ESV)
Paul referred to examples such as Nadab, Abihu, and Eli and his wicked sons, who were all destroyed. They trifled with God and were horrible examples of walking worthy of your calling. What happened? Nadab and Abihu were burned to death with the Fire of God when they offered common fire to God, and Aaron was not allowed to mourn their death (even though they were his sons). Many years later, God Judged Eli and his sons and terminated the priestly calling as a family. This happens when men are called to sanctify the Lord in the eyes of the people, and they refuse to do it.
Knowing of men who didn’t fear the Lord, Paul wrote, “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.” If we name the name of Christ, we are responsible for sanctifying God in our hearts and the eyes of the people watching us. Some will never read a Bible but gain knowledge about God by watching. Our life says a lot about what we believe about God. What message are we conveying?