Archive for the tag “ambassadors of reconciliation”

African-American missionaries enlarging the Just Kingdom

If Jesus’ followers are to fulfill our missions as ambassadors of reconciliation and enlarge the Kingdom of Justice, we must focus on breaking down walls of ethnic and racial hostility, in our communities and, even more importantly, among ourselves.

break down wallsOne group making remarkable strides in that area is an old-school missional network, the Southern Baptist Convention. Fred Luter‘s 2012 election as the first African American to lead the 167-year-old national association was a milestone on a journey of reconciliation that had seen the number of African-American congregations in the SBC grow by a whopping 82.7 percent between 1998 and 2011. Some 1 million African Americans in about 3,400 churches affiliate with the denomination.

That splash of reconciliation is rippling out into communities around the world, as a Black History Month package of features on CommissionStories.com illustrates. From W.W. Colley‘s 1875 service in Nigeria to Joseph Lyles‘ short-term work in Thailand, to Marie Edwards‘ work in the IMB‘s NAME region, to Isaac Adams‘ ministry in Brazil, God is using a rock-ribbed, historically Anglo denomination to help a lost world understand that, in Christ, the unity of God’s family is abolishing all the distinctions and oppressions people insist on erecting against each other — “no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female.”

View the “Celebrating African Americans on mission” package of stories, photos, and video by clicking here.

Learn more about the global and North America work of Southern Baptists.

Ambassadors of ‘new things’

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation …. We are ambassadors for Christ. (2 Corinthians 5: 17-18, 20a NAS)

By Mark Kelly

The radical change Jesus brings to our lives transforms more than our relationship with God. Jesus invites us into God’s everything-is-new kingdom, where nothing is as it was before — especially our relationships and responsibilities.

We were God’s enemies, but his overwhelming love for us allowed his sinless only Son to die in our place so we could be adopted into God’s family. (Romans 5:8-10) When we allow Christ to make new creatures of us, all the “old things” disappear and “new things” take their place. The most fundamental change is our mission in life. Instead of being in it for ourselves, looking out for No. 1, we become ambassadors for a kingdom of justice, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Romans 14:17)

Now justice, peace, and joy are not merely the benefits we individually enjoy for entering the Kingdom; they also describe the newly created relationships between citizens of the Kingdom. They describe the vision of new life we offer lost, broken souls enslaved by the powers of this present darkness.

How radically different is a world in which we are told to love our enemies? How different is a world in which we are told to love our neighbor — and as an example we are told a story about ethnic groups who despise each other? How radically different from our churches today would a community be, in which there was no poverty because members sold their property to help other members in need?

In this radically different “new things” world, we also have “new things” responsibilities.

God set a radical example of loving our enemies by allowing his sinless only Son to die in our place. As ambassadors of God’s kingdom, don’t we have a responsibility to represent our Lord to even the worst of his enemies, including sex traffickers, child molesters, and slave owners? How much greater is our responsibility before God to reach out to their victims and help them find a path into the Kingdom of Justice, Peace, and Joy?

Declaring that old things have passed away means much more than turning away from our old sinful indulgences. It also requires us to turn away from our old (and sinful) apathy about oppression and injustice.

Our old complacency and self-interest allowed injustice to multiply without restraint. Our mission as ambassadors of reconciliation is to multiply God’s justice.


Mark Kelly is editor of Multiply Justice. Copyright © 2012 Kainos Press

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