THE BISHOP AS AN AMBASSADOR OF GOD by Bishop Dr. J. Akin Atere

BIBLE STUDY AT THE BISHOPS’ RETREAT FROM 5TH – 10TH JANUARY, 2015 AT IBRU CHRISTIAN CENTRE, AGBARHA-OTOR

THEME: THE BISHOP AS AN AMBASSADOR OF GOD

TEXTS:

BIBLE STUDY 1:

The word “Ambassador” is defined by online dictionary as a diplomatic official of the highest rank accredited to a foreign government or sovereign as the resident representative of his or her own government or appointed for a special and often temporary diplomatic assignment. A foreigner or anyone whose nationality is in doubt cannot be an ambassador of a serious country.

The role of an ambassador could be summed up under five headings.

  • DIPLOMATIC: He is to facilitate or conduct negotiation between his home country and the host country. Receiving and delivering messages, most of the time as spoke’s person for his government. He cannot serve his personal interest but the interest of his country or head of his government.
  • POLICY: He is expected to believe in and defend the policy of his country’s government in relation to Foreign Trade, Economic Policies, Politics, etc. He must notify his country consistently of any change of attitude where he is a diplomat that can be injurious to his country.
  • ADMINISTRATIVE: He is to oversee operation of the Embassy which include the staff. He is expected to protect and see to the welfare of all the citizens of his country residing where he is a diplomat.
  • CEREMONIAL: He is to represent the interest of his government at public events. He speaks the message of the one who sends him.
  • AGENT OF PEACE AND CO-OPERATION: He is to work toward maintaining peace and bilateral co-operation between the two countries.

 AMBASSADORIAL IDEAS IN THE BIBLE

In the Old Testament, the word mal’akh “messenger” or tsir “one who goes on an errand” are constantly used by the Hebrews on various occasion and for various reasons had recourse to the services of Ambassadors, not only on occasions of hostile challenges or insolent menace but of friendly complement or request for alliance or aid e.g.

  • Construct alliance – Joshua 9:4
  • To solicit favour – Number 20:14
  • To protect when wrong was done – Judges 11:12
  • To condole with a young king on the death of his father – 2 Sam.10:12
  • To congratulate a king on his ascendance to the throne – 1 Kings 5:1
  • Official representative of a king as of Pharaoh – Isaiah 30:4
  • Of the princes of Babylon 2 Chro. 32:31
  • Of the messenger of peace sent by Hezekiah, king of Judah to Sennacherib King of Assyria (Isaiah 33:7)

In the New Testament, the term is used in a figurative sense. Paul calls himself “an ambassador in chains” Eph. 6:20 and in 2 Cor.5:20 includes, with himself, all ministers of the gospel (Bishops included) as “ambassador … on behalf of Christ” commissioned by Him as their Sovereign Lord, with the ministry of reconciling the world to God.

BISHOP AS AN AMBASSADOR: At the presentation of “Letter of Credence” by the primate (acting on behalf of God) at our consecration. We all agreed to this charge “ …A bishop in God’s Church is called to be one with the Apostle, to proclaim Christ’s resurrection and interpret the Gospel and testify to Christ’s Sovereignty as Lord of lords and King of kings. You are called to guard the faith, unity and discipline of the Church; to celebrate and provide for  the administration of the sacrament of the New Covenant … and to be in all things faithful pastor and wholesome example to the entire flock of Christ. With fellow Bishops, you will share in the leadership of the Church throughout the world… your joy will be to follow Him who came, not to be served but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many.

 PRIMATE: Are you persuaded that God has called you to the office of a Bishop/an Ambassador

 BISHOP ELECT: I am so persuaded

 JESUS AS AN IDEAL AMBASSADOR OF HIS FATHER:

  1. The declaration of His anointing to proclaim good news to the poor, to preach, set free, recovery of sight etc. Luke 4:18-19, Matt.10:8
  2. He reveals that His kingdom is not in this world – John 18:36
  3. He declared that He was sent by His Father – John 20:21
  4. He is the way, the truth and the life – John 14:1-4
  5. He is the same as His father – John 14:7-11, Luke 1:35; John 20:28
  6. He has a ministry to the Children – Matt.19:14
  7. He was loyal to His Father till death – Luke 23:46
  8. Obedience to earthly government – Matt. 17:27
  9. He was an ambassador to the sick – Mark 1:34, Luke 10:9, Matt.8:16-17
  10. He loves the poor – Luke 14:13; Mark 10:21, Luke 3:11

 APOSTLE PAUL AS AN AMBASSADOR OF GOD

In both his words and actions in the presence of rulers and ordinary people reflected those of his heavenly king. His pastoral counsel brought a good number of people into a relationship with God through Christ Jesus.

  1. He believes his citizenship is in heaven – Phil. 3:20
  2. He placed the good of others at the fore front of everything – 1 Cor.10:32,33, Acts 17:22
  3. He used his time and talent to promote the kingdom, including personal sacrifice – Phil 2:4
  4. As an ambassador, Paul was honest, used facts to persuade others; neither deceives nor exaggerates to achieve his way. He upbraided Peter for behavior unbecoming of a fellow ambassador. Gal. 2:11-14
  5. Paul was humble to provide extensive instruction and direction, explains the law of his home (heaven). He was a leading light in the early Church, yet he considered himself the “least of the apostles” 1 Cor.15:9, Ephe 3:8, Phil.2:3
  6. Acts 24 & 25 showed the boldness of Paul while defending his apostleship before Felix and Festus who were both procurators of the Roman Province of Judea. He did not only declare the resurrection truth (a vital aspect of God’s kingdom) but also used it to mount his defense.
  7. Paul represented our heavenly citizenship with courage and zeal, suffered martyrdom.
  8. His reconciliation role between the Jews and the Gentiles is summarized in the book of Ephesians Chapter 2:1-19.

 QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION

  1. What are the characteristics of Jesus Christ as ambassador of His Father a bishop must manifest? Luke 4:18-19, John 14:7-11, Luke 1:35, Matt.19:14, Luke 23:46, Matt.17:27, John 18:36
  2. In Ephesians 6:20, Paul referred to himself as “an ambassador in chain.” What are the issues/ problems that can lead to persecution of the bishop today as he discharge his duty as an ambassador of God. 2 Timothy 1:8; Daniel 3:15-16, II Tim.3:12, John 15:20-21, James 1:3
  3. Is it possible for a Bishop to possess all or many of the qualities listed in 1 Timothy 3:1-7/Titus 1:7-8 before election and later derail in the course of duty? If it’s possible, why?. John 15:6-7, 2 Timothy 2:3-4, 1 John 2:16, Rom.7:15-18.
  4. What are the sources of strength for God’s Ambassadors as seen in Paul’s ministry. Isa 40:30-31, Isaiah 41:10, 2 Cor. 13:4, Eph. 3:16

CONCLUSION:

Jesus Christ has set examples for us to follow. We must therefore strife to be like our master in this world where we serve and always be conscious that “we are in the world but do not belong here.” Our citizenship is in heaven.