When An Ambassador Goes Bad
Yesterday I stood in the apartment of a woman who had called Love INC for help. Aside from a tall kitchen table with two chairs, there was no furniture to be seen. She explained that she had borrowed them from a friend and would have to return them soon. She didn't have a bed. There were no pictures hanging on the wall. You might expect me to say something like "but, she had hope!" No, not really.
This woman's story didn't shock me, but it did grieve me. In fact, it's a story that has been told too many times. It's the story of a young girl (or boy) who went to church, and found themselves sexually violated at the hands of the one who is supposed to be representing God. Her story becomes even more grievous as she explains that both her father and priest used their authority to molest innocence.
So now, this woman's view of God is distorted. She sees Him as one who allowed violation to happen. She knows that she prayed, and her circumstances didn't change. Her position is "I tried that [relationship with God], and it doesn't work." To her, God isn't trustworthy. A father isn't safe. She isn't worth it.
I am disgusted when I hear stories of atrocities carried out in the name of Christ. Maybe the act wasn't directly linked to the name of Jesus, but the person at fault claimed to be a Christian. The damage done to the victim is mind boggling. Not only have they been so horribly wounded, but the one who is supposed to "love the little children of the world" now seems to be indirectly involved.
There is a passage in 2 Corinthians that reads "Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us." This is supposed to serve as an honorable commission. For some, it needs to be terrifying warning. When you represent Christ, you had better make sure you are aware of the terms of service before you raise the flag over your embassy.
I don't for a moment pretend to have my act completely together. I thank God for His grace, and I certainly want to be aware and seek forgiveness from those whom I've hurt with words or actions. I understand that for many, I may be the only "Bible" they will ever read. If I don't live out the love of Jesus, I had better lower my Christian flag.
In recent history, the only exposure most Americans have had to the concept of embassies and ambassadors is the horrific story of what happened in Benghazi, Libya on September 11th, 2012. John Christopher Stevens served as the US Ambassador to Libya. He represented America and was hated and killed for it.
There are certainly Christians around the globe who are suffering and being killed as ambassadors of Jesus. I by no means minimize or dismiss this truth. However, that is another important conversation for another time.
For now, I want to shine the spotlight on those who have taken the position of Ambassador (knowingly or unknowingly) and defamed not only the title, but the representative "country". Where is our outrage at those who misrepresent the name of Christ? Where is our tender compassion toward those who have suffered because of a scandalous abuse of power?
Sometimes the only words that can be spoken seem pale in the glaring light of wickedness. For the woman I met yesterday, they were simply "They do not represent God." I will pray, and I will follow up to offer any help toward healing that I can extend.
It's hard to leave this conversation on a positive note. Perhaps it's best just to leave with a word of caution: Christian, be aware! If you had a bumper sticker on your backside that read "How's my living? To complain, call 1-800-GOD-SEES" would that change the way you live?