The Ambassador's Strategy
Community Group Discussion Guide

Summary of Sermon
This week’s sermon was about the strategy an ambassador for Christ uses to share his or her message with the world. The message was based on Paul's discussion of his own experiences as an ambassador for Christ. Fifteen different strategies were taken from this text. As Pastor Larry mentioned, no one was expected to remember all 15 from the sermon. These strategies are a part of a life style we each must learn to live. The best approach to learning these strategies would be to take one or two each week and meditate on what those strategies mean and how you could begin to implement them into your own life. Here’s a list of the 15 strategies discussed:

1. Live urgently on purpose!

2. Keep the message, improve the methods!

3. Never forget your own story!

4. Today matters!

5. Remove stumbling blocks!

6. Be a servant leader!

7. Learn endurance!

8. Endure troubles, hardships and distresses!

9. Endure beatings, imprisonments and riots!

10. Endure hard work, sleepless nights, and hunger!

11. Exercise purity, understanding, patience and kindness when dealing with a lost person!

12. Exercise the Holy Spirit and sincere love!

13. Exercise truthful speech in the power of God!

14. Exercise weapons of righteousness!

15. Exercise focus!

Discussion Questions:

1. Have you ever been guilty of wanting to be a virtual Christian so you wouldn’t have to be inconvenienced? Maybe we’re all a little like the young man in the Wii Faith video. A very funny video, but a little more like reality than we would like to admit!

2. For this week, you get to decide what is discussed at Community Group. Look back over the list of strategies and pick a few that are of special interest to you. Maybe one that has worked well for you or one you struggle with, or one that was used to help get the message across to you when you first became a follower of Christ. Before you pick from the list of 15, read the text of the message from Sunday.

2 Cor 5:20  We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God.
2 Cor 5:21  God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Cor 6:1  As God's fellow workers we urge you not to receive God's grace in vain.
2 Cor 6:2  For he says, "In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you." I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation.
2 Cor 6:3  We put no stumbling block in anyone's path, so that our ministry will not be discredited.
2 Cor 6:4  Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses;
2 Cor 6:5  in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger;
2 Cor 6:6  in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love;
2 Cor 6:7  in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left;
2 Cor 6:8  through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors;
2 Cor 6:9  known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed;
2 Cor 6:10  sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

 
The Ambassador's Strategy

2 Corinthians 5:20-6:10

Go ahead an open your Bibles to 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:10.

Today we will rap up this series on being Ambassador's for Christ! However, I pray this series never ends in your heart and life. I pray you will live every single one of your days on this earth as an ambassador for Christ!

Of this we can be certain, it is God's will for you and me to be good ambassadors for Christ, powerfully representing Him in a world in which we are strangers and aliens.   

We have a message the world is desperate to hear and they'll hear it best when our life and message compliment each other!

As we learned last week, the way we represent Christ at home is critical. Not only for our family, but also for those who are watching us from a distance. We also learned how vital it is we represent Christ in our work. Whether your work is being an employee, an employer, or a student, preparing for employment.  

Our goal is to represent Christ so well that others see Him in us and want to know Him!!

If we're going to do this, we must have a God given strategy.  

God's Word is filled with strategy for the Ambassador for Christ!! Today we're going to look at the strategies of one of God's finest ambassadors to ever live, Paul the Apostle.

Let's pray and ask God to guide our strategy session this morning.  

PRAY!

There are many strategies for the Ambassador of Christ! Have you got your pen and pencil ready, or your I-pad, or smart phone? There's a big list!!

Strategy 1

Live urgently on purpose!

20We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.
2 Corinthians 5:20 (NIV)

This is most definitely not giving us the green light to be pushy, condemning or in your face. It means we are to be urgent in our efforts to build relationships and friendships with people so we can share with them how much God cares for them and wants to be a part of their lives.

A good ambassador realizes how important his or her job is and how urgent it is they perform their duties really well! And, as we'll see in a moment, time is of the essence!!

Strategy 2

Keep the message, improve the methods!

21God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV)

We are not trying to entertain, or just see how many people we can get to come to a meeting on Sundays. Our message is not insignificant. It is the message of how one finds real life in this world, and eternal life when we leave here. It is a message of forgiveness, mercy, purpose,  and peace!

This message is possible because Jesus lived a sinless life and then sacrificed His life on the Cross because of our sin. He made the way for us to become the righteousness of God!!

We can share this message in new ways. We can use modern techniques, cutting edge music, print media, film media, Facebook, Twitter, Podcast, but we dare not change the message of the Cross!! If we compromise the message of Christ on the Cross, we no longer have a message!!

I've had several people ask me why we don't have a Cross out front or on stage. We put images of the Cross behind many of our songs and even have a picture of a Cross in the Cafe.

 I'm not opposed to having a Cross on a wall, but the danger of having the Cross as a piece of furniture is that it may become just that….a piece of furniture. God forbid that the Cross ever becomes just a background. It should be in the foreground of everything we do.  

Strategy 3

Never forget your own story


1As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain.
2 Corinthians 6:1 (NIV)

2For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” …2 Corinthians 6:2a (NIV)

The most effective ambassador for Christ is the ambassador who remembers what it was like when he or she was separated from Christ and hopelessly lost and suffocating in a life of sin.

How vain would it be for a person who was poor and crippled by sin to be made rich in Christ and made whole spiritually, for that person to then look down their nose at someone still struggling with a boat load of sin?

How wrong would it be for a person given the miraculous cure for sin, to refuse to share the cure with others who desperately need the Jesus medicine?

When Jesus sent out His disciples he told them...

8...Freely you have received, freely give.
Matthew 10:8b(NIV)

Strategy 4

Today matters!

2... I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.
2 Corinthians 6:2 (NIV)

Don't wait until tomorrow to begin your work as an ambassador. Start today. You may not lead someone to actually say the sinner's pray today, but you can start planting gospel seeds by the way you treat others and with simple things you say that become profound when backed by your life!

Strategy 5

Remove stumbling blocks!


3We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited.
2 Corinthians 6:3 (NIV)

Your witness is so important.
If you are doing something that causes someone to stumble, stop. If a person stumbles over the gospel because of their own disbelief or unwillingness to turn from sin, that's on them, but if it's some activity, action or attitude on the part of the ambassador, this is on you.

Paul knew he was free to live anyway he wanted to because he was under grace and not the law, but he was not willing to use that freedom if it would cause someone to stumble.
Listen...

23“Everything is permissible”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”—but not everything is constructive.
1 Corinthians 10:23 (NIV)

24Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.
1 Corinthians 10:24 (NIV)

Paul also said this in 1 Corinthians...

19Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.
1 Corinthians 9:19 (NIV)

20To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law.
1 Corinthians 9:20 (NIV)

21To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law.
1 Corinthians 9:21 (NIV)

22To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.
1 Corinthians 9:22 (NIV)

23I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
1 Corinthians 9:23 (NIV)

Paul didn't compromise his convictions, but he did everything he could to remove anything that could cause someone to stumble.
Are we willing to make such a radical commitment as ambassadors for Christ? Are we willing to give up our freedoms so that others might find freedom in Jesus Christ?

The rest of the strategies hinge on our willingness to humble ourselves to serve Christ and those He's called us to serve.

Strategy 6

Be a servant leader!

4Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way...
2 Corinthians 6:4a (NIV)

 Paul wasn't bragging on himself or saying we're to commend ourselves in a way that is prideful. Anything but this. He said "as a servant of God, we commend ourselves!" In other words,

"What's cool about my life is I have the privilege of being a servant! A servant of God!"

The life Paul lived as a servant was his commendation. Being allowed to serve in God's court was such an honor to Paul, and Paul wanted his life as a servant of God to vouch for his message.


Likewise, you should let your life be the very thing that commends your message to others!

Some church signs should be outlawed!! Not really, but sometimes I think they do more damage than good. But I did see one that was really, really good.


 "Preach the Gospel, use words if necessary!"

Paul now gets into the details of strategy!!

Strategy 7

Learn endurance!

4Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance...
2 Corinthians 6:4 (NIV)

It is a great Christian virtue to endure, by the power of Christ, any and every circumstance we are called to bear! We are inspired by the endurance of Christ when He endured the Cross for our sake!!

The writer of Hebrews stated it this way...

1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Hebrews 12:1 (NIV)

2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:2 (NIV)

Paul then mentions details of things he had to endure as an ambassador for Christ...

Strategy 8

Endure troubles, hardships and distresses!

4Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses;
2 Corinthians 6:4 (NIV)

If you live long enough you will face difficult times. If you follow Christ long enough, you will eventually face some repercussions. Jesus was so honest with His disciples...

33“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33 (NIV)

Paul faced some things most of us have never faced, but his strategy was to endure even when the difficulty level was increased to level 10!

Strategy 9

Endure beatings, imprisonments and riots!

4Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance...
2 Corinthians 6:4 (NIV)

5in beatings, imprisonments and riots...
2 Corinthians 6:5a (NIV)

We've been blessed in America, so far! Not many have faced beatings, imprisonment, or riots, but that day could come. It has already come to many of our Christian brothers and sisters around the world.  

I've often wondered what my strategy would be if my faith were challenged in such a radical way. How would I respond? Would I abandon my post as an ambassador for Christ?

In our prayer guide for International Missions, we were told about Nik and Ruth Ripken. Names changed to protect them. "They have served in some of the toughest Muslim areas of Africa. They've known believers who have been martyred for Christ. They've interviewed hundreds of other persecuted Christians in more than 70 countries.

They themselves face the possibility of severe persecution. However, listen to what Nik said they learned about persecution from those who've been persecuted...

"The most persecuted person is a lost person who has no access to Jesus!"

This is precisely why an ambassador for Christ endures whatever he or she has to in order to share the message of the Cross! This leads us to Paul's next strategy...

Strategy 10

Endure hard work, sleepless nights, and hunger!

5... in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger;
2 Corinthians 6:5b(NIV)

An ambassador for Christ will work hard to represent his or her Lord well!
If it means sleepless nights, or missing a meal. The sleepless nights might be due to the burden the ambassador carries or to time spent consulting with the boss (prayer) or an uncomfortable jail cell!

Whether missing the meal was due to being so busy, or a voluntary fast, or being deprived of food by captors, it was the ambassador's job to endure this in order to be a good witness to others of God's faithfulness to His ambassadors!

Paul now moves from strategies dealing with our reaction to negative circumstances to proactive strategies that are necessary in building relationships with those we serve as ambassadors for Christ!

Strategy 11

Exercise purity, understanding, patience and kindness when dealing with a lost person!

4Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance...
2 Corinthians 6:4 (NIV)

6in purity, understanding, patience and kindness...
2 Corinthians 6:6 (NIV)

This is the strategy we've so often neglected to practice!
The world wants to know our attempts to reach them are pure and not selfishly motivated. They want to be understood.
They need our patience and our kindness.

 John Kramp wrote a book entitled "Out of their Faces and into their Shoes!"

Listen...

 "If Christians really understood the spiritually lost people around them, they would talk about faith more naturally. Evangelism would be more of a conversation and less of a high-pressure sales pitch…We do not know what they think or how they feel, so we do not know how to help them…so we often say nothing."

To say nothing is dereliction of duty. To say things in the wrong way simply drives people away. So how do we bridge this gap?
The next part of our text gives the answer...

Strategy 12

Exercise the Holy Spirit and sincere love!

6... in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love;
2 Corinthians 6:6b (NIV)

Together these two form a fundamental and most effective strategy! We must depend on the Holy Spirit to teach us, and lead us. Teach us, and lead us to do what?
To truly love those we are called to reach and to serve!

22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
Galatians 5:22 (NIV)

23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5:23 (NIV)

Strategy 13

Exercise truthful speech in the power of God!

4Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance...
2 Corinthians 6:4 (NIV)

7in truthful speech and in the power of God…2 Corinthians 6:7a (NIV)

An ambassador for Christ doesn't have to resort to trickery, or deception to get his message across. The ambassador for Christ speaks the truth in love and depends on the power of God to accomplish the work!

Remember, as an ambassador in a foreign land, the best way to get an audience for your message is to first build relationships and friendships. Never forget your power comes from the One who sent you. Paul put it beautifully in his first letter to the Corinthians...


1When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.
1 Corinthians 2:1 (NIV)

2For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
1 Corinthians 2:2 (NIV)

3I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling.
1 Corinthians 2:3 (NIV)

4My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power,
1 Corinthians 2:4 (NIV)

5so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.
1 Corinthians 2:5 (NIV)

Strategy 14

Exercise weapons of righteousness!

4Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance...
2 Corinthians 6:4 (NIV)

7...with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left;
2 Corinthians 6:7 (NIV)

The ambassador's job is different than a soldier's job. The ambassador's weapons are diplomatic. If the ambassador is successful, many lives can be spared!! War may be averted! Paul shares some fascinating insight on this in his second letter to the Corinthians...

3For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.
2 Corinthians 10:3 (NIV)

4The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.
2 Corinthians 10:4 (NIV)

5We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)

Strategy 15

Exercise focus!

There's going to be good times and bad.
Stay focused! Stay committed to the message!!

8through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors;
2 Corinthians 6:8 (NIV)

9known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed;
2 Corinthians 6:9 (NIV)

10sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
2 Corinthians 6:10 (NIV)

Conclusion:
What a list? Do you really expect me to do all those things? Here's the deal... Someone did those things for you. Your soul was that important to God and to the person or persons who shared Christ with you!

 Yes!!! We must use every strategy available to us to reach those who do not yet know Christ! They are that important!