We have seen in the early chapters of Acts how the first Christian believers established a different kind of community, caring for those in need among them, and together reaching out to those outside the community, offering them help where needed and inviting them to join in with what God was doing among them.
Adding to Jesus’ descriptions of salt and light, Paul uses a number of metaphors to portray the church’s action in the world. Among others, he describes those who live as God’s people as a sacrifice (see Rom. 12:1), Christ’s body (see 1 Cor. 12:12-20), as ambassadors (see 2 Cor. 5:18-20), and as perfume (see 2 Cor. 2:14-16). Each of these images talks about a role as representatives or agents of God’s kingdom even now, even amid a world ravaged by the great controversy.
Review each of these “representative” descriptions above. Which best describes how you would like to represent God and His ways in your community, and why?
Each of these images has action associated with them, not as a means of being acceptable to God but as people already accepted by God through Christ’s sacrifice, who have responded to God’s love and grace by being His agents in a hurt and dying world.
But they can also be considered on a still deeper level: because God’s love and grace is what the kingdom of God is about, when we act in such a way, reflecting to others in love and grace, we enact and participate in that eternal kingdom, even now.
In international law, a national embassy is considered part of the nation it represents, even when physically located in a foreign country, perhaps a long distance from the home nation. In a similar way, enacting the ways of God’s kingdom offers glimpses of that eternal reality here and now and, as such, points to and is a foretaste of the final defeat of evil. And by so doing—as Christ’s ambassadors, as Christ’s agents—we can experience the reality of His love and justice in our own lives, in the church, and in the lives of those we seek to serve.