As ambassadors of the kingdom of God, it’s important to remember the two kingdoms to which we belong. In this episode, I provide a few examples for how to consider the condition of the people of this world to whom we are ambassadors, and strategies to provide the most help to them.
I’d like to begin to explore the practical, daily significance of the models we have considered so far. As ambassadors of God’s kingdom, we must continually toggle back and forth between understanding and remembering the nature of the people to whom we are ambassadors and understanding and remembering the nature of the kingdom which we serve as ambassadors. Our own corrupt human nature actually belongs to the kingdom of this world, which makes us both able but unwilling to sympathize. At the same time, we have a soul regenerated in the image of Christ which makes us able and devoted to extending the kingdom of heaven to all.
To have in mind the condition of people of this kingdom to whom we are ambassadors, consider these two examples:
- Remember that a drowning person seems unable to understand what we are saying even though we are using plain language. They are too panicked.
- Remember that a person in the emergency room may not hear what you are saying due to panic or may not understand what you are saying because they don’t know the precise medical terminology you are using. In fact, the medical terminology may increase a patient’s panic because the words are so very foreign. Such a patient may be restless or even violent and certainly refuse to give consent for treatment.
Thus, an ambassador of the kingdom of heaven begins with patience and perception—waiting for desperate people to exhaust themselves and watching for those already exhausted. As we begin to share the kingdom of heaven with exhausted people, we must still remember that what we have to say is incomprehensible to them. We will need to be patient while the Word of God we share regenerates a soul that does comprehend the Word it now clings to and seeks to remain in.
At this point, it’s important to consider some texts in the Bible seem that contradictory . . . but are they, and of what use are they? The history of what we know as Christianity is a history of conflict over what the Bible teaches. Yet that is a history of the Bible among corrupt human nature. Souls regenerated by the Word share a profound communion in shared honesty about dependence on that Word and perception of what it teaches.
One of the most fundamental texts in the Bible tells us that God desires all to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4). Yet Jesus said the way is narrow and few find it (Matthew 7:13-14). If God wants everyone to be saved, why did He make the way narrow? The Bible also says we must repent and become like children, that Jesus is the only way, and that nature (general revelation) is God’s witness as well as His Word (special revelation). These texts seem impossible to reconcile until we remember our models of two opposing world views. Red Pyramid world insists that only a mature human intellect with the right information can make the commitment required for salvation. Thus infants, children, and all people without the Bible are lost, even hopelessly so. If this is true, then God is either unable to save all or unwilling and the Bible is false or not His Word. But Green V world reveals that human nature is utterly corrupt and incapable of hearing God, let alone responding positively (1 Corinthians 1:18 – 31; 2:14).
To make sense of these, first consider: God has, from before creation, reconciled the world to Himself – thus God has saved all. That is reality. But what about realization; how do people realize the blessing of that reality? What about a way that is singularly narrow because it cannot be counterfeited or pretended, a way that is characteristic of children and of most, perhaps all people at times in their lives, especially when they are dying? What if the narrow way is humility, which makes us honest about dependence which connects us with Jesus’ redemptive work? Humility makes the way exceedingly narrow yet makes salvation practically inescapable. God is not high above, out of reach, but below us providing support and bearing responsibility. We can lift ourselves up and even escape gravity, but why would we want to? There’s nothing out in space; it’s cold and lifeless. But gravity, like all law, presses reality upon us, finds our weaknesses, and forever pulls us back from our corrupt ego into humility that reconnects us with truth and that truth restores our life.
To hear more about this narrow way, here is a link to a video of a church service focused on the Matthew 7 passage. You’ll find a relevant children’s message at minute 10:45 and the sermon at minute 25:19.