A Roman Ambassador was the direct representative of the Emperor. In a conquered province, there was no position more powerful nor was there an office that carried more responsibility.

When the Roman senate decided that a conquered country should become a Roman province it sent ten ambassadors into that country. Together with the conquering general, the ambassadors arranged the terms of peace with the vanquished people, determined the boundaries of the new province, and drew up a constitution for the administration of the new government. The ambassadors were the men who were responsible for bringing the conquered people into the family of the Roman Empire.

The ambassador encountered many obstacles to the completion of his responsibilities. For example, it was common for the vanquished people to speak a language other than his native tongue. Invariably they did not share his customs, traditions or way of life. He was a stranger in a foreign land. These obstacles notwithstanding, the ambassador was required to remain faithful to his own country. His duty was to insure that the conquered people conformed to the culture of Rome and not vice versa.

As he brought the citizenry into obedient compliance to the laws, customs and mores of the Roman culture, the ambassador had to be wise in his conduct. The honor of Rome was in his hands. His words were carefully listened to, his deeds carefully scrutinized and his attitude carefully evaluated. His country was judged by his conduct. He was both agent for and representative of his sovereign.

In 2 Corinthians 5:11-21, Paul considers himself an ambassador for Christ. He was responsible for bringing rebellious people, conquered by the gospel of God’s love, into the family of God. What a humbling honor—what a terrifying responsibility!

What about us? Do we consider ourselves Ambassadors for Christ? Are we called to proclaim the gospel, conquer sin and transform lives? Or, is our perception of the role we play different?