This facet of the diamond of who we are in Christ was somewhat difficult to name. In the title, I’ve used the word Proclaimers, and there is truth in that, but it is not the whole story. The problem is that there is not one word that adequately describes this facet. In fact, we’re going to look at six words, witness, minister, ambassador, messenger, priest, and proclaimer.
Witness. The book of Acts records Jesus final instructions this way, “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8, NASB95) A witness speaks about what they have seen and experienced, often in the form of a testimonial. Our minds rush to the courtroom with someone on the witness stand describing an event. While that is an apt picture, let’s bring this down to earth a bit. We witness to each other every day. We witness when we respond to “How was your drive in?” Or when we describe a recent experience, “We went to Bob’s Pickle House for dinner and let me tell you…” Or when we write an online review of a recent purchase. That’s all it really means to witness, to tell others about our experience.
Minister. Just reading that word 99% of you will say, “nope, that’s not me.” But let’s separate the title from the act. To minister means nothing more than to serve. Paul put it this way, “Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:18–20, NASB95) Oops, one of our other words crept in. That’s because there is a connection in Paul’s mind between minister and ambassador that is still seen in governmental circles. Both represent the king and serve according to the king’s wishes. Follower’s of Jesus have been tasked with telling others about God’s gracious gift of reconciliation and peace.
Ambassador. Think about what an ambassador does. They live in another country and represent their home government. As Paul reminded us, we are Christ’s ambassadors, representing His kingdom and desires to those who are still living in the kingdom of darkness. Before the days of instant communication, the only information people had of another land was what came through that land’s ambassadors. An ambassador does more than relay the messages from their king, they are also the visible representation of what their homeland is like. Jesus said, “ By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35, NASB95) An ambassador’s message is not only presented in words but also in actions and choices.
Messenger. Perhaps the most famous messenger in history is the fellow that ran from Marathon to Athens with the message of their victory. According to the story, he died from exhaustion after speaking the good news. The role of a messenger is to carry a message from one place to another. Sometimes that message was a written scroll, but sometimes, like our faithful runner from Marathon, it is a spoken message. Sometimes the message is great and fantastic news, but other times it is one of failure and death. Here’s the important point, a messenger carries whatever is given them. Even though some may want to “shoot the messenger” the person responsible for the contents is the sender. In the end, our job is to deliver the message of God’s Good News to those that need to hear it.
Priest. This may seem like the Sesame Street song of One of These Things is Not Like the Others. But we need to take our religious concept of a priest and lay it aside for a moment. In its most basic form, a priest serves God and serves the people of God. And yet we are all priests. Peter wrote, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;” (1 Peter 2:9, NASB95) And John observed, “and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father—to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (Revelation 1:6, NASB95) The point, of course, is one of service and representation. In a way, the Old Testament priests were middlemen of you will. They represented the people to God and God to the people. The priestly picture in the New Testament is that of a kingdom filled with priests serving God in worship and representing Him to others in need of His touch.
Proclaimers. Paul wrote, “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!” (Romans 10:14–15, NASB95) We again need to put aside our religious connotations of what it means to preach or be a preacher which is why I chose the word proclaimers instead. Proclaimers speak or convey a message. The picture in Paul’s mind may have been the couriers that carried his letters or our previously mentioned marathon runner. While standing in front of a group of people and talking for a period of time is a form of proclamation it is not the only form. Whenever we speak of Jesus, we are proclaiming.
The one thing that pulls all of these pictures together is the sense of standing between. On the one hand, serving the King of Kings while also serving others. Relaying the Good News to all that will listen. Providing glimpses of God’s kingdom to those that are living in darkness. Seeing, hearing, tasting, experiencing God’s goodness and telling others about it. But also hearing and seeing the brokenness around us and lifting those things up in prayer to the King of Kings.
When we shine the light of Jesus on this facet of the diamond of who we are in Christ what do we see? Part of the beauty of a diamond is the way it refracts and reflects the light shining on it. The primary encouragement from this facet is to shine, let others see the light that is shining in our hearts through Jesus. That’s what being a witness, minister, ambassador, messenger, priest, and proclaimer is about – radiating outwards what is shining inwards.