God’s Ambassadors

“According to new research from the Center for the Study of Global


Image © Kevin Carden from GoodSalt.com

Christianity one out of five non-Christians in North America does not “personally know” a single follower of Christ. That’s 13,447,000 people who don’t have a Christian friend or even acquaintance. The percentages get higher for certain religious groups. For instance, 65 percent of Buddhists, 75 percent of Chinese people, 78 percent of Hindus, and 43 percent of Muslims in America do not personally know a follower of Christ.
“Worldwide, the numbers are much worse: more than 8 in 10 non-Christians do not personally know a follower of Christ.”1

Can you wrap your mind around those numbers? I live in a heavily Christian little town in Texas that is almost 50% Seventh-day Adventist. Of course, there are other varieties of Christians in the town as well, so I would have to imagine that almost everyone in my town personally knows a Christian. Unfortunately, too many of the “other 50%” in my town have known Christians who have left a bad aftertaste for Christians in their lives. They have been left with a warped picture of God that may make it more difficult for the next Christian they meet to leave them with a true picture of God.

As Christians we may not think about it very often, but when we’re just going about our everyday business, people are watching and making judgments about how Christians act as compared to non-Christians. We may not like it, but very powerful stereotypes of Christians exist and either help or hinder our mission to spread the Good News.

You may have heard the story about the woman who was driving through town when a policeman pulled her over and approached her window. She was puzzled because to her knowledge she hadn’t broken any traffic laws. The policeman asked for her license, and took it back to his patrol car to do his computer thing. Finally he walked back to her car, handed her license back, and apologized. “I’m sorry, ma’am, but when I first noticed this car, I saw the “Honk if you love Jesus” bumper sticker. Then you cut off the man in the green car causing him to have to slam on his brakes, you yelled at the person in the blue car who didn’t pull away from the stop as quickly as you thought he should have. Then I saw you make a rude hand gesture at the person who was still in the crosswalk when your light turned green. I naturally assumed that this car was stolen.

Most people, churched or unchurched, have a picture of how Christians are supposed to behave. They want Christians to live up to a higher standard. At the same time, Christians are often characterized as unreasonably stern, closed-minded, and judgmental.

The book, UnChristian by David Kinnaman mentions statistics from a Barna Research Group study in which the Barna Group looked at people born between 1965 and 2002.

Two of the questions specifically asked people who claimed no church affiliation how they viewed folks who went to church.

“Nearly nine out of ten young outsiders—87 percent—said that the term “judgmental” accurately describes present-day Christianity.
“Of the non-Christians surveyed, 84 percent said they personally know at least one committed Christian. Yet just 15 percent thought the lifestyles of those Christ-followers were significantly different from the norm.”2

You know, when God picked the Israelites to be His chosen people, He intended for them to be examples of His character to the world.

“Many nations shall come and say,
‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
He will teach us His ways,
And we shall walk in His paths.’
For out of Zion the law shall go forth,
And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” Micah 4:2

The Jews had a hard time with that responsibility, didn’t they? They hoarded the truth instead of sharing it. They became exclusive instead of inclusive, so that by the time Jesus came as the Messiah, many of them had forgotten that their purpose was to be God’s ambassadors, demonstrating His love, care, and saving grace to the world.

The mission of God’s people hasn’t changed at all. We still have one job – to spread the Good News to as many people as we can, in as many ways as we can.

Now for most of us, that isn’t by preaching to the multitudes, going to the mission fields, or any number of other high-profile activity. In fact, some of us may never actually say much. We will go about our everyday, humdrum activities – the grocery story, the gas station, work, home – but wherever we go and whatever we’re doing, we’re being God’s representatives to the people who are watching us.

I know a man who loves to help people. For example, if the person in front of him in the grocery line doesn’t have enough money, he picks up the balance. Helping people makes him happy, but he doesn’t want any credit, attention, or payment. So he’s starting to hand out little cards to the people he helps. The cards say, “Jesus is my best friend. Jesus wants to be your best friend do. If you want to know more about Jesus, call …” and he puts in the number of a local church. What a great demonstration of the love of our Savior!

Remember the story of the maid in 2 Kings 5? She was a captured Jewish slave, but she introduced Naaman to the Great Healer. And after he was healed of his leprosy,

“… he returned to the man of God, he and all his aides, and came and stood before him; and he said, ‘Indeed, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel; … please let your servant be given two mule-loads of earth; for your servant will no longer offer either burnt offering or sacrifice to other gods, but to the Lord.” 2Kings 5:15, 17

There are places all around the world where we can’t mention our love for Jesus, and it’s becoming unpopular here in North America, too. But no matter where we are, we can always demonstrate the love of Jesus to those around us, to those who are watching, and maybe, just maybe they’ll ask us a question that will allow us to introduce them to our best Friend, Jesus Christ.

  1. Abby Stocker, “The Craziest Statistic You’ll Read About North American Missions,” Christianity Today (8-19-13)
  2. David Kinnaman, UnChristian (Baker, 2007), pp. 48, 182


God’s Ambassadors — 14 Comments

  1. Lillianne, your statistics are alarming, or at least disappointing. One might ask, of all the ones that claim to be Christians, what does that mean? They attend Church on a regular basis, or only on Easter and Christmas? Winston Churchill made an observation. He said, going to church does not make a Christian any more than if they are in a garage makes them a car. We do need to be aware of our actions when we are seen by others. It should be a way of life, not a determined effort to display Christian characteristics, only when we might be seen.

    • It is not alarming to me about the state of Christians. One man migrated to USA once and saw the culture. As he lived there for the first couple of months he proclaimed "I love the God that is in America but do not love the God back home". He quickly stated when asked why. His answer was; because in USA in the Adventist churches everyone is allowed to live anyhow without being told what to do, no discipline, no correction, no censorship. Then that was a good God who allowed you to do anything and still serve in the church.
      I used that illustration to say, if you who professed to be a christian and our non Christians friends go the same places and do the same things, how can the see Christ in us. The see us just like them.

      • The wheat will grow with the tares until the harvest. Our concern should not so much be about "them", but "me". This is done through prayerful examination of self compared to Jesus, asking God to "search me...and lead me in the way everlasting". We are then to encourage all who God places on our path who's feet might be found slipping into wayward paths, "in the spirit of meekness" and pointing them to the Lamb of God. This is God's work and He will lead us in it.

    • I wondered about the same thing, many people claim to be Christians who rarely attend any service, or attend services out of habit. I believe we need to consider them unchurched every bit as much as those who claim no affiliation...meaning how we act inside of our church buildings is every bit as important as our behavior outside.
      Thank you for your comments.

  2. Am very grateful to the minds behind these posts and God's ambassodors in oarticular.This is way beyond insipiration! be blessed and pour out a lot more for our spiritual growth. simon from Uganda

  3. Lillian, Thank you for reminding us about our responsibility to be the Light of the world, as our Lord Jesus Christ places His Light in us.
    I think you will understand my making a distinction between persons who call themselves Christians and those who are blessed with being the "Light", having received the "Light" through the indwelling Holy Spirit.

    A Christian who does not know anyone who is called Christian (no distinction made with being a true Christian), is one who has not even been to a Christian church.
    87% "young outsiders" viewing Christians as "judgmental" is quite realistic, considering that most "young" and many of the older generation (who taught them) do not care for the principles of God's Law. It is easier to reject God's principles for "this is my life to live how I want". I know SDA young people who jest about the rigidity and judgmental nature of keeping the Sabbath, and having regular devotions. Additionally, I do know Christians who do not attend church, feel strongly about acceptance with God, but live immoral according to Scripture. They also will reject the Law of God, and the current lessons as rigid and judgmental.
    One who has contact with Chinese and other international communities in the USA, or acquainted with the the stats, will know that most live in exclusive communities, and either view America and Americans as Christian, or if they recognize a distinction between Christian believers and other Americans, do not know who is or is not in the crowd of people they encounter in life here. I think those writers gave a skewed concept.

    On the other hand, Jesus Christ identifies our Church today as Laodicea, "blind" and "naked", without love and the anointing of the Holy Spirit. You are correct in referring to "Israel" and their constant apostasy. If today we are modern "Israel", we like them represent the inability to see (incapable to accurately assess our condition, or see HIM), and our uncovered state without the clothing of righteousness and without the armor of God. We own being "Israel", but not the "overcomer" "who has power with God and with man".

    Lillian, Your article is a call to repentance, to return to Israel of God.
    God bless, as we prayer unto the coming of Jesus, with readiness and a steadast faith.

    God bless.

  4. I suppose these statistics are a sad commentary on the lack of Christians to heed the commission to "Go ye...".

    I would also say that there are those who demonstrate the character of Jesus, while not knowing Him. For any who are searching for truth, God guides them by His Spirit who is convincing the world of "sin...righteousness...judgment", while Christians are left to choose to be part of this work or not. Any who wish to serve will be led by God to a condition of fitness for the work of the gospel.

    Following the example of Christ is a personal responsibility which the servants of God will be found doing when Jesus returns. They will receive His Seal and follow Him wherever He goes. To all others, Jesus must say at last; "I never knew you."

  5. Lilliane, thanks for the reminder. It is very disappointing what the statistics reveal. I ask the Lord to help me to reflect His character daily at home, work or wherever I may be. Bless you.

  6. The Scripture is useless, baseless and dead until we act on it...

    Prayer: Lord Jesus, give me the grace to make Your Word the standard for my life, my thoughts, my actions and my deeds. Give me the grace to believe Your Word and act upon it, in Jesus’ name.
    Acts 12:17-20
    James 1:25
    2 Thessalonians 1

  7. I often wonder how it must be for an immigrant to enter the US...into what he constantly would have heard was a "Christian" country...and then witness the flagrant unchristian practices of the majority of the population, the corruption of government and corporations, the greed of corporate leaders, the excesses of Hollywood and the entertainment industry as a whole,fashion, the rampant and open sexualization of everything from advertising to the passion for personal fitness etc etc.
    For the Muslim for example who grew up in say Yemen or Pakistan and only had Al Jazeerah for his contact with the outside world, his entire perspective of what he understood to be Christian was what he witnessed as being the worst examples of human behaviour as seen on his tv. I would suggest that personal contact with a Christian wouldn't alter a great deal of his pre-conceived perspective.
    It would take a radical departure from the norm in Christian behaviour and practice to positively influence such people as described above. That radical departure from the norm is what we as Seventh Day Adventists are called to be. A truly peculiar people. We just need to get out more and show people that there is an Israel that is still set apart for holy use.

    • Have you ever wondered how was it only 8, I said 8 people was saved in the ark after 120yrs of preaching. The very people who worked on the ark as workers was not saved. Was it just a job they were doing and never listened to Bro Noah. Have you ever wondered why only 3, I said 3 people was rescued from Sodom, Gomorrah, and there neighboring regions. Not even the people who worked for Bro Lot and Sis Lot. My bible said the people even challenged angels. Look at our world today.

  8. “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

    The One who is fighting for you is the One on the inside. When one’s life is not dominated by the Word of God, one talks about the battle on the outside, where fear and intimidation reign. The Holy Spirit takes up residence within us the moment we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and personal Saviour and He puts an end to our failure and gives birth to success. What are you passing through? What are you facing? Relax! Start talking about the hope of glory instead of self pity. Start talking about the One who is fighting for you instead of the battle. Start talking about the promise of victory, instead of the warfare. Start talking about the Healer instead of your sickness. Allow the Word of God to dominate your mouth because when the Word of God dominates your mouth, it will dominate your heart and when the Word of God dominates your heart, it will influence your conduct and behaviour. I mean, if the Word of God is dominating your heart, you will talk about the One who is fighting for you, Jesus, the One on the inside. When you talk about the One who is fighting for you, the One on the inside, you will overcome the one who is in the world because the One who is in you is greater.

    Prayer Point: Spirit of the living God, fall afresh upon me and make my heart Your dwelling place.

  9. We have made Jesus unpopular because we say we follow Him but we do not follow His principles.

    To get to the root of the matter, your spiritual life is the answer, therefore The first place we are to prosper is in our spiritual life.

  10. If millions of this generation are to believe, they must see proof that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.


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