Representing the Kingdom of God
INTRO: In the Olympics, each competitor represents not only himself, but also his country. Often, America's athletes (for instance), are introduced with the phrase "Representing the United States of America..." Many Olympians compete in such a way as to bring their country honor and glory - even if they do not win a medal. However, a few competitors bring shame on themselves and their countries (consider those who test positive for drug use -- 2 Timothy 2:5, "And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules").
As Christians, we are citizens and representatives of the Kingdom of Heaven. If that fact were announced as we made our way out into the world to compete each day, it might serve as a helpful reminder.
I. We are "ambassadors"
A. Some countries sees their Olympic athletes as ambassadors for their nation, culture, way of life, and even their economic systems.
B. The apostles were ambassadors, and to a lesser extent, each of us is too, 2 Corinthians 5:20, "Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God."
C. A faithful ambassador represents his nation in a positive light, Proverbs 13:17, "A wicked messenger falls into trouble, But a faithful ambassador brings health."
II. Our words and deeds are to glorify God.
A. 1 Corinthians 6:20, "For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's."
B. Through Praising Him -- Psalms 50:23, "Whoever offers praise glorifies Me; And to him who orders his conduct aright I will show the salvation of God.""
C. Through getting His message out to others -- 1 Peter 4:11, "If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen."
1. ILLUS: On January 21, 1930, the name of Harold Vidian became synonymous with heroism. On that day, England's King George V was scheduled to give the opening address at the London Arms Conference. The king's message was to be sent by radio all around the world. A few minutes before the king was to speak, a member of the CBS staff tripped over an electrical wire and broke it, cutting off the whole American audience. With no hesitation, chief control operator Harold Vidian grasped one end of the broken wire in his right hand and the other in his left, thus restoring the circuit. Electricity surged through his body. Ignoring the pain, Vidian held on until the king had finished his address. I see in this a challenge for Christians. The message of the King of kings must go to the whole world. But only as we allow God's power to pass through us can the Lord's saving gospel be transmitted.
Paul wrote, "How shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?" (Rom. 10:14). If we are willing to serve as conduits, regardless of the cost to us, the good news will be proclaimed around the world. Will you be a conduit for the King's message? - Donald McCullough, in his book The Trivialization of God (NavPress, 1995)
2. Preach the gospel all the time. If necessary, use words. - St. Francis of Assisi III. Our words and deeds are to lead others to glorify Christ and His kingdom - folks should see how great Christ and His Kingdom are when they see my life. A. Matthew 5:16, ""Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."
1. It's one thing when U.S. citizens cheer their own people, but when citizens and athletes of other nations cheer us and honor our nation, it becomes significant.
2. E.G. The first U.S. Basketball Dream Team - Some from other countries were just awed to play them.
3. Lenny Krazylberg's parents came to U.S. so their son could have the freedom to pursue greatness in the backstroke (Lenny is the 100 & 200 meter backstroke champion in the 2000 Olympics).
B. 1 Peter 2:12, "having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation."
1. The other night an American swimmer spat in the lane of her competitor before the race began - such behavior will never lead others to speak well of the United States.
2. God's visitations upon men are His inspections of men resulting in judgment or mercy. Visitation (Gr. Episkope) literally means "an inspection for relief" (Strong).
3. "In this light, the day of visitation would be the day in which they were visited by God with forgiveness, and for this they would glorify God" (Hamilton, 1 Peter, p. 92).
4. Luke 1:68, ""Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited and redeemed His people,"
5. Jeremiah 27:22, "'They shall be carried to Babylon, and there they shall be until the day that I visit them,' says the LORD. 'Then I will bring them up and restore them to this place.'""
6. Cf. Luke 19:44, ""and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.""
7. Luke 7:16, "Then fear came upon all, and they glorified God, saying, "A great prophet has risen up among us"; and, "God has visited His people."
8. The idea then in 1 Peter 2:12 is that representing the kingdom of Heaven well can help lead others to a day when they find forgiveness.
Conclusion: If you are a Christian today, you are representing the Kingdom Of Heaven, and its King, Jesus Christ. Are you bringing glory and honor to your King and your fellow citizens? If you are not a Christian, look around at the lives of those who true, patriotic, citizens of the kingdom. Don't you want what they've got? Today God can visit you with forgiveness if you are willing to be delivered "out of the power of darkness and translated...into the kingdom of the Son of His love." (Colossians 1:13, ASV).
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