Several years ago, I was once hanging out with a good friend and it being a hot summer, we decided to have some ice-cream. I quickly suggested a well-known ice-cream store chain that was nearby, but my friend wasn’t interested. He said he had such a bad experience from that store that he’d never buy ice-cream from any of their outlets again. We settled for a different ice-cream store and he began to relate his nasty experience with the previous ice-cream outlet as we licked away our cold mounds of delight. I said to my friend “What you said is right, they shouldn’t have treated you that way and it makes perfect sense to be upset with them, but my question to you is ‘Do you think that the ice-cream company believes that such behavior is OK, or could it be that the staff was ignorant or untrained and made a mistake?’”. “Well”, he said, “It doesn’t matter to me because it was unfair to me and I have every right to not go there again”.
My friend was right and he made a choice never to visit that company’s outlet again. As I kept pondering over it, I realized how life is made up of numerous such decisions based on experiences. I, for one, have had great experiences from the same outlet and can surely say that the staff are concerned about their customers and have seen the same behavior consistently from them. Maybe it was a bad day for that one staff (was he new?) that day who knows? But certainly, such behavior is not acceptable and my friend felt justified in his decision. If I were in my friend’s place I’d certainly want to give it another try and if such behavior was repeated then make the same decision he made.
Sometimes when we face a person who is representing an organisation or community, we do not get to see the true value of that organisation or community. If we decide to base a judgmental decision on one single experience we could well be missing out on a whole lot of truth. The person may not be a good representative of that company and may have done a bad job. This certainly jeopardizes the company’s position and value. Some of these acts may not be significant enough to cause a major problem but there are some bad enough to ruin its reputation (e.g. a well-known airlines dragging off its passenger due to an overbooking error recently). When such behavior is consistent then the organisation is destined to be doomed.
As a believer, we carry an important task of being good representatives of and for Christ. We’re not just a mere back-office representative but we are called to be ‘Ambassadors’ for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). An ambassador is an important official who works in a foreign country representing his or her own country. Imagine the importance of such a person, who represents an entire nation to another country. He or she must be dedicated to his role and job. Such is our role, as we represent Christ to those who do not know him. Yes, we do get annoyed, irritated and tiresome at times, but it’s our behavior at such times that really reveals Christ to others. God has called us to be messengers of hope to others. With the good news of His kingdom, we bring life into their lives. Our role is important to God, even if we do not see it that way.
[Proverbs 13:17 NKJV] says “A wicked messenger falls into trouble, But a faithful ambassador brings health”. In other words, God works healing, restoration, deliverance, forgiveness through an ambassador’s lives unto others. Are we willing to be able and trained ambassadors that can bring hope into this hopeless world? Can we reveal the life of God through our lives? Do we want to do it? Paul was one such example who understood his mission very well and dedicated his life to it. We may not have to leave everything else aside and travel from place to place like Paul did (although there may be some whom God have chosen to do so), but in every little area of our lives, are we ready to be a good representative of his kingdom? If yes, then our every thought, word and action become responsible. They are meant to edify and strengthen ourselves and others and glorify and magnify God and his kingdom. We need the help of each other to do that. So, lay aside all our differences and work united for the kingdom, so that together we are true followers of Christ representing him the way He is.
So, the next time we are upset over an experience of ours, we could well remember who Christ is, what He is to us and how we could represent him to someone who doesn’t know him before we take the next action. Of course, without God’s help, it would be an impossible task, but God sent His Holy Spirit exactly for this purpose and when we exhibit the fruit of His Spirit we are revealing to others who God is.