Earlier this week, I wrote about how being an ambassador for Christ means to live out His mission. The second part of being an ambassador is being present in the world. If you are an ambassador, part of your job is to present in whatever country to which you are ambassador. You live life there and maintain a presence for your home country.
The same is true for us. As ambassadors for Christ, we maintain a presence for Jesus in the world. When Jesus was in the world, he “became flesh, and made his dwelling among us.” He was present with his creation. Jesus didn’t do what he did from the outside, he did it from within the world. He came to us, rubbed shoulders with us, and showed us a new way to live. Philippians 2 says that he gave up his lofty position in order to live among us as one of us. It’s amazing that God goes to such great lengths to love and rescue his people.
The best way, I think, to explain this is to use the explanation the Greg Nettles and Alex Absalom use in their book One Of.
God is for us. God certainly cares for us and desires the best for us.
God desires to be with us. Throughout the story of scripture we can see the God wants to be with his people. He walks with us in the garden, dwells in the tabernacle with the Israelites.
God became one of us. In order to repair the broken relationship, God becomes one of us. Jesus becomes flesh and moves in to the neighborhood. Jesus sacrifices himself for our sins and repairs the broken relationship.
God is now in us. The Spirit is present in us and helps us begin the process anew in the lives of other people.
Now we join in the process and we are for people, we are with them, and we can become one of them. Nettle and Absalom write,
“If the church is a compilation of millions of followers of Jesus around the globe, then it should follow that the church is For people, With people, and One Of people, so that the DNA of Jesus can come to live In other people.”
So often we are only For people, or maybe even spend some time With them. The real change, however, happens when we really commit to being present with people and become one of them. We understand their trials and pains, and then we can help them understand the gospel in their context. Just like Jesus, who was able, “to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are,” God has called us to empathize with those around us.
There are a lot of people that we are For and With. Who are the people that you need to be present with, to be One of?