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A diplomatic incident

What can we learn about being God's ambassadors from this week's resignation of Sir Kim Darroch?

This week there was a diplomatic incident of epic proportions.

US President Donald Trump called the British ambassador to the US, Sir Kim Darroch, a pompous fool” and a very stupid guy” on Twitter. This followed the leaked publication of sensitive emails which Sir Darroch had sent back to the British government in which he called President Trump insecure” and described his administration as inept” and dysfunctional”.

The ambassador quickly became the story as Trump said that his administration would no longer work with him while the British government reaffirmed their absolute confidence in and support for Darroch. A short time later the ambassador resigned.

The norm in the arena of international diplomacy is reading between the lines and extracting information from what is left unsaid. The explicit, offensive and personal nature of the comments about the ambassador by the President is unusual and makes the special relationship’ feel even more strained that it has been lately.

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I love the idea of diplomacy and seriously considered applying to the diplomatic service. The idea of being sent abroad as an ambassador for your country sounds undeniably exciting – or maybe it’s just the adverts featuring those round Italian chocolate and hazelnut gold-wrapped sweets I was thinking about. 

I’m also a diplomat by nature. There are lots and lots of attributes I fail to possess, but every personality test comes back to say that diplomacy is somehow in my DNA. I can easily see and understand the views of the other side’ in a debate and often feel like I’m living in a strange third space, mediating between people who seem to be communicating past each other.

All this to say that I’ve been really struck the past few years by the biblical image of being an ambassador. Two Corinthians chapter five says: 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. God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”

Being an ambassador is a difficult job. Our role is to faithfully represent the kingdom from which we have been sent. It’s deeply political and we are almost certain to be misunderstood. The culture we are sent into is very different from the kingdom of God. We have to navigate this culture, understanding it and communicating effectively the purposes we have been sent with. We are in the world but not of it, sent with authority and purpose, living out of a different story and view of the world.

I don’t think many people are aware of this new, gifted identity when they come to faith. We come to Jesus and He sends us, commissions us as ambassadors, so that His kingdom is brought back into the world; He makes His appeal to reconciliation with God through us. We are sent on a mission, the mission of God in this world.

As ambassadors for Christ, there will be no shortage of diplomatic incidents’ and we might well be called worse than a pompous fool’. Be assured that the one who sent us will give us the grace we need in each moment. Have you ever thought of yourself a sent ambassador? How will it change your conversations this weekend when you do see who you are in Christ? 

About the author

David Smyth is public policy lead at Evangelical Alliance Northern Ireland and coordinates the Public Leader: Northern Ireland course. He is a former solicitor and represents the Evangelical Alliance on a range of government, civic and charitable forums. He serves in the space where faith, law, politics and culture intersect.

See more from David Smyth

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